BELLEVUE, WA: On Sunday, April 24, 2016 a pick-up truck pulled up to a group of East Shore Unitarian Church Black Lives Matter advocates at the stop light on the corner of Factoria Blvd. SE and SE 36th and threw a sign at the group that read “I Hate Ni**ers─Black Lives Don’t Mean Shit.” On Sunday, May 7 Church staff discovered that their Black Lives Banner had been slashed.
According to East Shore’s Interim Minister, Rev. Elaine Peresluha, “We began to process and respond to this racist attack immediately following the event. It has taken a few weeks of working with the Bellevue Police and the Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition to know how best to respond. We invited the coalition's traveling peace arch to our community where our members and friends could publicly affirm our commitment to fight racism. We are continuing to work with the Eastside Race and Leadership Coalition and the Bellevue Police Diversity initiative to promote opportunities for public conversations on race.”
About East Shore Unitarian Church
For the last few years, East Shore Unitarian Church members have been participating in an eight week curriculum called Beloved Conversations. The program is an experiential curriculum that provides a space to re-form/fuse the brokenness of racism into new patterns of thought and behavior ushering in social and spiritual healing. New ways of being are learned through conversation and probing dialogue. As a result of the training, Church members have become much more aware and mobilized around the issues of race relations, most notably creating a group of Black Lives Matter advocates.
Members of East Shore Unitarian Church have been standing on the corner of Factoria Blvd. SE and SE 36th St. every Sunday since last July with a Black Lives Matters sign in response to the reality that the United States was built on a legacy of slavery, racism, and oppression that continues to take new, ever-changing forms. The systemic devaluing of Black lives calls Church members to bear witness acknowledging that oppression takes many intersecting manifestations.
About East Shore Black Lives Matter Flash Stances
Inspired by his 2015 trip to Selma, AL to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, Church member Manuel (Manny) Brown felt called to action. He was further inspired when he attended the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (yearly UU convention) a few months later when our governing body urged UUs across our country to support the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Upon returning to Seattle after GA, Manny approached Church member Seth Hamilton about the idea of a group of East Shore folks standing on the corner in the Factoria area of Bellevue to support Black Lives Matter. And so it began─soon they were joined by other Church members and friends. “I stand on the corner every Sunday to bring awareness not just to the many black lives that have been lost and affected by continued police brutality, but also to remind people that systemic racism remains a problem in our country and each of us has a responsibility to help eradicate it.” says Seth.
Since July of 2015, representatives from East Shore Unitarian Church have stood in solidarity on that same corner EVERY SUNDAY through rain or shine. The group has taken on the name of the East Shore Black Lives Matter Flash Stance. “Sometimes people yell at us in anger, honk and wave in support, or avoid eye contact all together. It is important that we stand in solidarity to keep the conversation going,” says Manny.
In support of this Church movement, the East Shore Board of Directors recently endorsed the group by allowing them to add an additional banner that reads
Black Lives Matter
East Shore Unitarian Church – Bellevue, WA
Standing on the Side of Love
East Shore Unitarian Church: Rev. Elaine Peresluha, (425) 747-3780, firstname.lastname@example.org