Table flipped at Howard S. Wright construction firm in protest of proposed new youth jail in Seattle

Monday, March 30th 2015

Members of EPIC (Ending the Prison Industrial Complex) and YUIR (Youth Undoing Institutional Racism) joined with local clergy and activists to protest the “Children and Family Justice Center”, that will be replacing the current youth detention center in the coming years. The activists met at Key Arena and walked to the Howard S. Wright construction headquarters where activists set up a table in the lobby of the Wright Construction office. Then, scripture was read, first by Lauren Cannon, then Mike Denton. Rick Derksen then explained why a table was being flipped and compared the action to Jesus in the temple, flipping tables of the bankers. As soon as the collective group flipped the table, it was packed up, leaving coins and letters on the floor and a letter was delivered to the Howard S. Wright Construction company by Brandon Duran. Activists then left the building to meet back at Key Arena for a debrief.

From a pamphlet given out at the event

Trinity of Talking points: We are here as people of faith in the spirit of Jesus, who overturned the tables in the Jerusalem temple at the beginning of Holy Week, thus challenging a religious, economic, and political system that was exploiting the poor and marginalized of his day.

1. Accountability: We stand in solidarity with Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) – groups led by youth of color who are collectively organizing to dismantle racist systems.

2. Shifting Narrative: As predominantly white churches/denominations we claim our complicity in upholding structural racism. We know that while we benefit in very tangible ways from these unjust systems, we also pay a very real price both economically, physically, emotionally, morally, and spiritually.

3. Fix Racist Systems: This new youth jail project is an extension of the prison industrial complex in this country and in the U.S. as a whole, a system of modern-day slavery that has a destructive impact primarily on communities of color. We call on you to put your contract with King County on hold until King County agrees to listen to EPIC and YUIR, that is to listen to those communities most impacted by the juvenile justice system in this country.”

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