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11.03.2020

Black Lives Still Matter

By Stefani Coverson, Chief People & Equity Strategy Officer

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Five days before our local and national elections, Vancouver, Washington, was confronted with a horrific reality and a call to “scream his name!” We at Treehouse are devastated by the police killing of 21-year-old Kevin Peterson Jr. There are no words to describe the profound sense of loss. It isn’t easy to look at the young Black men involved in our programs and convince them that they are destined for greatness when our systems repeatedly show them otherwise. Black people are disproportionality affected by police violence across the United States.

While there has been growing awareness of police brutality throughout 2020, it is still devastating and terrifying that something like this could happen so close to home and in one of the communities we serve. Our hearts go out to the victim’s friends and family and to the community who loved him. His absence has left a mark in Vancouver and across the state, which will be felt for many years to come. We stand in solidarity with his family, friends and community, and sympathize with their feelings of shock, outrage and grief. We join in their demand for answers.

There is much about the circumstances of this young man’s death that have yet to be revealed. However, it is known that Kevin’s lifeless body was left on the ground in the parking lot for 11 hours after the shooting while his parents waited nearby, begging the police to see their son. This is systemic racism, and this type of inhumane behavior and disrespect is unacceptable. We cannot even begin to fathom the further terror and trauma this has inflicted upon the Vancouver community, particularly Black residents. Kevin Peterson Jr. had a girlfriend that he loved and was on a video call with her when he was shot multiple times. He was also a father to an infant who will now grow up without her father due to his untimely death. He and his loved ones deserved so much more than him being left in a parking lot for nearly half of a day.

Unfortunately, Kevin Peterson Jr. is far from the first Black person to die recently by the police’s hands. His death is part of a larger disturbing trend of minimizing Black lives. There are many other victims of racial injustice whose names and stories we will never know. That is why we at Treehouse have made an intentional commitment to center anti-racism in our work to remove systemic barriers. Until racial injustice is remedied and systemic racism is dismantled, everyone’s responsibility is to do their part, and we all have a role. We know there is a long road ahead, but we firmly believe racial equity is essential for a world where all youth can thrive and pursue their boldest dreams. We demand answers. #BlackLivesMatter #SayHisName #AllBlackLivesMatter

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About the Author

An accomplished human resources leader with more than 20 years of experience, Stefani brings a people-first commitment to Treehouse. She joined Treehouse in 2020 from Clark College where she served as Vice President of Human Resources & Compliance. She’s also worked for Seattle University, Seattle Public Schools and started her career at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).


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