Irving Brown rallies support in Pasco after racist acts target him
Many spoke in support of Irving Brown, Sr. and his city council campaign at a gathering this week in Pasco, which flanks the Columbia River in southeast Washington state.
The Black incumbent candidate said he has been targeted with an unsigned racist letter, a knocked down campaign sign with a racist note and vandalism at his home.
Brown said he’s an articulate Black person, who is ready to educate people who don’t yet understand him, or have attacked his campaign.
“It’s unfortunate that it had to be me,” Brown said. “But I took the assignment, and I’m going all the way. There’s no stopping me now. None at all. I am fighting for you and your children regardless of what color you are, what shape you are, how you stand or how you look.”
Incumbent Brown was appointed to his Position 3 about a year ago, and is now running for city council to retain the seat. He’s also an human resources manager for Oasis Farms in Prosser.
A racist letter was sent to city hall in January and just recently made public. Brown’s campaign sign was knocked down near a busy Pasco road and a racist note found nearby in late August. Brown said his home’s yard was vandalized just last week. He also said he’s been followed.
“I’m going to be Black for the rest of my life and there is nothing you can do about it,” Brown said to the applauding crowd assembled Tuesday night. “Black people are very highly educated for those of you that may not know. They are doctors, they are lawyers, they are engineers, there was a brother that was in the White House, and I am saying that intentionally. He was a cool dude.”
Pasco was just about the only community where Black people could live in the Tri-Cities, when the region was settled. Richland and Kennewick were largely off limits.
Robert Franklin, co-author of “Echos of Exclusion and Resistance: Voices From the Hanford Region” and an assistant professor of history at WSU Tri-Cities, said there is a sad continuity of Black experiences during Jim Crow and what is happening today.
“I see a direct line between what’s happening today and what had happened back then,” said Franklin. “His very presence on the city council, and that of others, to see these racist attacks, it points at how much pain there still is. That this bad behavior could await people that want to be a public figure.”
Franklin said it is sad that there are people that feel clearly emboldened to attack Brown. He said he is not surprised but said this points to the continued work needed for civil rights – “We have not rectified the sins of the past. They’re staring us in the face. Hate should have no place here,” he said.
Brown spoke at a rally in Pasco Tuesday night saying that this negative behavior is now turning into a positive for the community.
“We got this,” Brown said. “I believe we can educate with great information and become a community that we say that we are.”
Brown has also been the target of ire by some Hispanic and Latino people who said they should have more representation on city council.
Last week, the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party, Steven Bauman, spoke during the city council meeting condemning the recent attacks.
“There’s no place for that in our community,” he said. “As the chairman of the republican party I condemn them in the strongest possible fashion that I can.”
At the rally to support him about 100 people and leaders showed up. There, Brown called for donations, help for his campaign and community unity.