Spokane City Council Members Stand In Unity with Gonzaga Students against Hate Crimes

Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226

Friday, November 20, 2020 at 2:38 p.m.

Councilmember Betsy Wilkerson, Councilmember Michael Cathcart and Councilmember Kate Burke met with Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh, Gonzaga administrators and The Black Student Union (BSU) to discuss the November 8th incident where BSU student were verbally assaulted by unidentified participants that invaded their Zoom call spewing racial slurs directed at the students.  Councilmembers are calling for a resolution condemning white supremacy and the spread of racial divisiveness. 

“As a black woman living all of my life in Spokane, I have firsthand experience of racial intimidation, microaggressions and acts of hate and frankly it’s tiring,” says Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson.  “It is absolutely disheartening to hear these students of color, most who are visitors to our city, have been subjected to such vile hatred at such an esteemed institution like Gonzaga.  From a national level, we’ve seen extreme racial tensions; however, when it comes to our back yard, as a community leader, I am compelled to speak out against any hate crime that leaves a stain on our City.”

“I am saddened to hear that these types of incidents are still happening, and still there has been lack of conversation around the systematic changes that needs to happen,” says Councilwoman Kate Burke.   “Gonzaga University and The City of Spokane have a major task and responsibility in rebuilding the trust of not only the students, but also the community that supports them. I am in full support of what the BSU demands of Gonzaga and will back them until the administration fully makes the changes asked for.  It is not unreasonable of the students to ask for safety, cultural awareness and to hold the attackers accountable.”

Councilman Michael Cathcart added, “It’s deeply disturbing and troubling that students at Gonzaga would commit such an act of racist hatred towards their fellow students. I hope that the GU Administration follows through with their commitment to thoroughly investigating this act and punishing those responsible. The students at Gonzaga deserve a safe campus free of these horrific incidents.”

Following the Zoom incident, The BSU issued the following demands of Gonzaga’s administration:

BSU Demands of Administration:

  1. Follow through with their promises by using every resource available to find out who did this.
  2. Hold the individuals accountable for this hate crime against BSU and the GU community.
  3. Set clear goals and enact tangible change to protect Black and POC students on this campus.
  4. Provide a therapist of color to help us process and unpack the emotions we are feeling after experiencing this traumatic incident.
  5. Plan and execute a town hall for members of the administration to address what happened and speak honestly and openly to the Gonzaga community, instead of just sending out an email.

Council stands unified against individuals and hate groups in and around Spokane that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy and white nationalism.