A petition that began circulating online over the weekend is calling for Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring’s resignation.
The petition had gathered roughly 2,500 signatures by Monday afternoon, two days after its creation. Last week, Quiring said that she doesn’t believe systemic racism exists in Clark County, comments that she has since reaffirmed.
Quiring’s comments came during a council time meeting Wednesday. During the meeting, councilors, in a 4-1 vote, approved 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.
“I do not agree with this letter. I will not sign it, because I do not agree that we have systemic racism in our county. Period,” Quiring said.
The description included in the petition called Quiring’s comments “out of touch, to say the least.”
“Systemic racism is alive and well in Clark County. There is proof anywhere you choose to look,” the petition description reads. “We need a council chair who not only acknowledges that, but proposes action to combat it. Eileen Quiring needs to resign.”
As examples of racism in the county, the description listed rallies held by local organizations listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center and a Vancouver Public Schools director who recently resigned after a tweet suggesting that fire hoses be used to quell demonstrators. It also referenced a monument near Ridgefield memorializing Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy’s only president, and a Vancouver resident and member of the far-right group Proud Boys who was arrested last week for allegedly brawling near protests in Seattle.
NAACP Vancouver and the League of United Latin American Citizens also called for the chair’s resignation over the weekend.
In response, Quiring wrote in a text Saturday to The Columbian that, “I will NOT be resigning.”
“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,” Quiring said.
Quiring also said to The Columbian on Saturday that deputies with the sheriff’s office, judges in the county and staff with the county Human Resources department whom “I know” are not racist.
“If all of these people and departments with our county aren’t racist, there is not SYSTEMIC racism! That has always been my point!” Quiring said.
The topic of race came up within the human resources department in May after an employee shared a Vox article connecting anti-lockdown protests with white privilege. In 2018, a sheriff’s deputy was fired after she appeared in a photograph wearing a Proud Boys sweatshirt and appeared to be selling merchandise for the far-right group known for some of its members’ white nationalist rhetoric.
One week before Quiring’s comments, she joined a unanimous vote on the council in passing a resolution “relating to eliminating systemic racism and injustice in Clark County.”