Nikkita Oliver refuses to debate youth jail without live audience

Article first appeared on 31 March 2018

This week Dow Constantine, the King County executive, agreed to a debate on the Seattle Channel about the new youth jail. On Friday, activist and attorney Nikkita Oliver tweeted that she wouldn’t participate without a live audience.

Oliver published a text message exchange with someone from the Seattle Channel.

“I cannot with integrity participate in an in-studio debate,” Oliver wrote, “while the most impacted communities still have no opportunities for meaningful participation in the process.”

Click to view original Twitter post

Constantine has been dogged for six years by a coalition opposing construction of a new Youth and Family Justice Center. Not much changed after a meeting Friday between Constantine and a delegation from the group, which included Oliver, the former mayoral candidate.

Oliver addressed activists protesting outside the county building after the meeting.

“What he [Dow] showed is that he doesn’t have the courage enough to put a pause and have a real conversation with impacted communities,” Oliver said.

Activist Senait Brown was also part of the delegation that met with Constantine. “The analysis of how racism plays into this is clearly missing,” she said. “The only solutions that are being thought about are Band-Aid solutions, Band-Aid approaches, and that’s not worth our time.”

Both Brown and Oliver urged the group to keep fighting and holding the county to its promise of zero youth detention.

Correction, 2:30 p.m., 4/2/2018: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to Nikkita Oliver. It was by Senait Brown.