Each month, Thurston Community Media (TCMedia)’s Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. This month, Mission Nonprofit host Deborah Vinsel sat down with Tyrone Brown from Black Leaders in Action & Solidarity Thurston (BLAST).
Black Leaders in Action & Solidarity Thurston is an organization who mission is to: “Elevate voices for Justice [sic], transparency and respect for marginalized people; to dismantle systematic and institutionalized racism and our justice and law enforcement, correctional institution’s [sic] and local governments, public safety, education institutions, housing and health and human service services; finally to ensure all officials are held accountable in fostering true safety and trust in our community.”
“We came about back in June, we were kind of brought together under pressure and in response to white supremacist violence in our community, in response to George Floyd’s murder and the global uprisings,” says Tyrone Brown. A rally they held that month had over 2,000 people show up in support.
The organization came up with a list of demands, that they wanted to take before the City of Olympia and Thurston County officials. According to their website, their demands include:
- Divest from the criminal justice apparatus and invest in community-based solutions
- Immediately adopt and align with the Federal Justice in Policing Act of 2020 In 116th congressional session and WA I-940 Initiative/RCW -Chap.9A.16 – Defense
- Remove resource officers from our public schools and invest in student support systems.
- Justice for Yvonne McDonald and transparency/accountability from the City of Olympia and Olympia Police Department.
- Enact a Good Cause Eviction Bill and Non-Possessory Bill.
- Employ a Reconciliation and Oversight Board Made Up of Marginalized People.
- City Council must enforce RCWs 9.41.270 & 38.40.120 that will keep armed agitators off our streets with the intent of intimidating and threatening peaceful protesters.
- Investigate ties between white nationalist vigilante groups and taxpayer funded law enforcement.
“They reflect the many areas of community work are members represented,” explains Tyrone. “Also, the most important work is building community, establishing a safe environment for Black Indigenous people to exist and thrive.”
Over the past 10 months, BLAST has held press conferences; gathered elected officials together to hear their demands; created and circulated a magazine; and raised about $14,000 to support students with tech needs, financial support for family and elderly people with immediate housing needs. The group has also done several community events including a Halloween candy hand-out at Gabi’s Comics and a community toy drive in partnership with Justice for Yvonne McDonald. The toy drive helped over 100 families with Christmas gifts. BLAST also offers tutoring for students.
They do not have an office or a place of meeting, but rather are out in the community doing work where they are needed. They get together via Zoom calls. Volunteers are always needed for events and to coordinate outreach. “In October we were able to get emergency renter protections passed here,” shares Tyrone, “and that’s done through grassroots organizing, you know, from people showing up to city council, testifying in favor of these policies and these changes.” You can also donate to BLAST. The funds are distributed back into the community according to Tyrone.
For more information, watch the full video and visit the BLAST website.
You can watch Mission Nonprofit on channel 77 on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on TCMedia.org, Video On-Demand or our Roku channel. To learn more about what TCMedia does, visit the Thuston Community Media YouTube channel or the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.