Championing humanity over hatred

By Meg Winch

In May 2009, 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, were murdered by a hate group that started in Snohomish County. With a promise to never forget the Flores family and their sacrifice, the new Snohomish County Human Rights held its first community event to memorialize Brisenia and her father on the anniversary of their death in 2012. This event has since become an annual opportunity to recommit to building the connections among diverse groups in Snohomish County that can prevent the type of violence that took Brisenia and Raul Flores’ lives. As the third annual “Brisenia Flores Humanity not Hatred” event, the Human Rights Commission will host a community ice-cream social from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Thursday at McCollum Park.

At the event, we remember Brisenia with the type of activities she might have loved. The event is intended to be family-friendly, including ice-cream, live music, and activities like face-painting and crafts — exactly the kind of fun any 9-year-old like Brisenia would enjoy. The event will be held outdoors in the park, with families encouraged to picnic, listen to music, and spend the evening with other members of our community.

The Human Rights Commission’s hope is that by remembering Brisenia in an event designed to encourage communication and positive interaction, we can build stronger connections among diverse residents from across Snohomish County. These connections will be the best way to ward against the divisive speech that encouraged rogue residents of Snohomish County to commit their hate crime against the Flores family.

As a population, Snohomish County is increasingly diverse, but as a community, we share a common goals to ensure our county is a safe place for families and children. As a community, we need to recommit to what connects rather than what divides us as humans: the basic rights that all of us have by virtue of being human. On Thursday, we remember Brisenia as a child whose life was taken by a hate group that originated here in Snohomish County. At this event — and through the diligent effort of all residents and community partners throughout the year — we work to build connections with each other to ensure future children are never at risk from those who seek to divide our community with hate.

On Thursday, please join the Human Rights Commission and your neighbors for an evening of family fun in honor of Brisenia.

Meg Winch is chair of the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission.