Massacre Kills Scores in Las Vegas, and Housing For All Takes Over Seattle City Hall

Nick and I have spent the weekend babysitting my three cousins who live in Seattle. Frankie, Gus and Park are the kids of my cousin Mark and his wife Sandy. They’ve lived in Seattle a long time and have been such a positive influence in my life. They were in Peace Corps in the 90s in Bulgaria, they visited me in Cambodia and they have helped me make Seattle home from the second I landed here in mid August 2014. I also want to say that my nephew Levi turned 3 years old on Friday. Nick and I sent a gift. We love him.

Now, let me start with the biggest news since we last talked. A white, middle-aged American shot and killed 58 people who were at a country music festival on the Las Vegas strip a week ago today. He did it from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Here are what the horrific headlines looked like.


Because of the stranglehold on influence and power the National Rifle Association (NRA) has over our culture, the debate over gun control is STILL raging. We cannot unite behind the idea of something as basic as the fact that guns need regulation. Here’s what it looked like on Facebook as friends in Las Vegas checked in as “safe” and other headlines:

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.57.55 AMScreenshot_2017-10-02-23-07-33Screenshot_2017-10-05-06-36-36Screenshot_2017-10-05-06-39-16

I can’t help but be enraged at how brainwashed so many of us are around guns. We need regulation. But, so many people lost hope we’d ever regulate guns after a gunman killed scores of elementary kids in 2012 and WE DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT IT IN THE AFTERMATH. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook last week:


Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 12.00.25 PMLess than 24 hours after the massacre in Las Vegas, we were taking our Housing For All demand letter and platform to Seattle City Hall. We had a great crowd. Here are some pictures of what it looked like as we packed City Hall to standing room only. Also, there’s a shot below of a Stevens Elementary PTA mom who I got to come and testify in support of the campaign. I also testified because I wanted to read quotes from two PTA presidents from elementary schools who could not be there:

Council chambersWaiting at the Mayor's OfficeScreen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.29.27 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-03 at 1.05.09 PMOne of my favorite quotes from all the testimony was this:

“We are people who live in tents, vehicles, and shelters, we are renters and we are homeowners, we are parents, we are teachers, we are tech workers, we are social workers, we are faith leaders, we are members of the many communities that make up Seattle. We are linking arms in solidarity and demanding solutions to the Homelessness State of Emergency. Already 58 people (of the 4,000 who live outside here) have died this year in Seattle because they felt they had nowhere they could go that was safe, welcoming, and inside. This is unacceptable.”

Our City Hall presence came the same week that a judge dealt a setback to our neighbors who live outside:

Screenshot_2017-10-06-08-59-42As if this week wasn’t emotionally charged enough with everything I’ve told you already, we also had a forum to hear from the dozen or so people who applied to be the interim City Council member until the end of November (after the seat was vacated by Tim Burgess who became mayor). After that forum, the Council selected Kirsten Harris-Talley who is an activist who helped lead movements like Block the Bunker to halt the building of a new police precinct campus, and No New Youth Jail which is a movement that is aiming to stop the construction of a new youth jail in Seattle.

The appointment was a major victory for the Seattle Peoples Party and folks who quickly organized TransparenSEA Seattle to force the Council to have an open selection process for the short-term position. I am so grateful for the activists who worked so hard on this. I’ve gotten to know so many of them over the Summer through the Nikkita Oliver for Mayor campaign, and consider many of them friends now.

Here’s what the headline looked like:


Also, since this is my first post in October, I wanted to say that I had such an amazing time catching up with some of my favorite people who visited this summer including my parents, Jessica who lives in Cambodia and who I know from my years living there, and a friend from college Daniela.

20170811_14324720170831_194447Me and Daniela

Finally, here are some of the other headlines we’ve been seeing from The Washington Post during the last week:


And, one more picture that speaks volumes of the disgraceful shitshow we’re in right now. Trump visited hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico and said terrible things as well as threw out paper towels to a crowd as if it were a gameshow.

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