Tuesday, July 14, 2020
July 14, 2020

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NAACP, LULAC call for Clark County Council Chair Quiring to step down over remarks

Eileen Quiring said she doesn’t believe systemic racism exists in Clark County

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:

NAACP Vancouver and the League of United Latin American Citizens called Saturday for the resignation of Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring following comments she made Wednesday that she doesn’t believe systemic racism exists in the county.

Quiring, in a text message Saturday, said: “I will NOT be resigning.”

She later added, “I have great empathy for anyone who suffered discrimination and racism. Again, I do not condone it! These organizations having such a knee-jerk reaction to a different point of view being expressed is truly unfortunate. Their call for my resignation is completely unreasonable!”

In its letter to Quiring, NAACP Vancouver said it is “deeply concerned by your denial of the systemic racism that exists in Clark County. Your comments and attitude prove that you lack the knowledge, integrity and vision to competently lead our county. For the best interest of all Clark County residents, we call upon you to immediately resign as county chair.”

Community leaders and citizens have been vocal about Quiring’s comment, with some listing a number of examples of systemic racism in the county.

“We can no longer afford to have the type of mentality exhibited by Quiring in public office if we are to make the necessary changes to move our community forward together,” LULAC’s letter reads. “Through her expressive racist statement, Quiring has demonstrated a callous disregard for Black and brown people living in Clark County. In our community, racial inequities are visible in the law, as well as in thoughts, actions and inactions.”

Quiring’s comment came as the council approved, in a 4-1 vote during the weekly council time meeting, a letter supporting Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins’ decision to ban “Thin Blue Line” flag stickers, pins and other decorations from sheriff’s office vehicles, offices and staff uniforms. (Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain also announced last week that he ordered none of those symbols to be worn by police employees or displayed in or on city property.)

Once intended to support law enforcement and family of officers killed in the line of duty, the iconography has become a source of controversy due to a perceived overlap with “Blue Lives Matter,” a phrase that emerged in response to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Atkins discussed the decision during a virtual Juneteenth celebration hosted by the Vancouver NAACP.

Quiring called the sheriff’s decision “disturbing,” and refused to sign the council’s letter.

LULAC said that Quiring sharing her thoughts in a public setting and official capacity gave the organization “no choice but to join the effort to recall her and demand her resignation.”

In her follow-up text to The Columbian, Quiring said she made it clear that she believes there may be racist individuals — “unfortunately that exists because humans are not perfect. Nor do I condone racism in any form.”

“That said, from the sheriff’s office and deputies whom I know, none are racist. I know many of our judges in Clark County, I know none are racist. Finally, I know Clark County’s HR department and the good people there, and none of them are racist!” she wrote. “If all of these people and departments with our county aren’t racist, there is not SYSTEMIC racism! That has always been my point!”

In its letter, NAACP Vancouver President Bridgette Fahnbulleh wrote that Quiring’s belief “reflects ignorance at best,” and pointed to the county’s “infamous history of workplace racial discrimination, lawsuits, substantial settlements (and) inability to sustain meaningful workplace diversity,” among other examples.

It goes on to say that fellow council members; county leaders, such as Atkins; and many residents “have embraced anti-racism and a different vision for the future.”

“As county chair, you are required to ‘articulate council policies, vision, strategies, and plans; represent the county before the governor, state Legislature, and other state and federal agencies.’ You cannot effectively perform these duties while lacking introspection and the ability or willingness to recognize the reality of racism — including implicit bias, white privilege that sustains the status quo, and the adverse impact on people of color,” the letter reads.

The organization challenged Quiring to become educated on racism, and examine her own privilege and racial bias.

But in the meantime, “We urge you to step down to make way for a leader with the depth and desire to make our county a safe and welcoming place for all,” the letter concludes.

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