Council Passes Ordinance Establishing Office of Civil Rights

Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 at 8:03 a.m.

During Monday night’s Legislative Session City Council voted unanimously on Ordinance C35159, establishing the City’s first Office of Civil Rights, Equity, and Inclusion (OCREI). 

“City Council has previously budgeted funding for an Office of Civil Rights, but a formal department was yet to be created,” says Councilmember Betsy Wilkerson. “The need for our community members to have a place to report issues and access help when needed has been well documented. The most common legal application of the term Civil Rights involves the rights guaranteed to US citizens by the Constitution - to ensure non-discriminatory practices regarding age, housing, employment, disabilities, race, and employment. When Black Americans protested for the right to end segregation and the right to vote, the effect activated protection for all races. This office will be supported and provided the proper resources for education and compliance where appropriate within the City of Spokane to help those in need of assistance and direct them to other resources.”

The Office of Civil Rights, Equity, and Inclusion will provide city-wide leadership and guidance in the areas of civil rights, equity, and inclusion. It shall promote the removal of historical and existing barriers to access to services within the boundaries of the City of Spokane and work to eliminate discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations for all people. In addition to creating the new department, Council also approved funding for a Director and two support staff for the office as part of the 2022 Budget adoption.

“Aspirations and calls for a more inclusive Spokane have gone without answer for far too long,” says Council President Breean Beggs. “Tonight, the City of Spokane has committed money and people to support a Spokane where we all belong!”