Spokane Mayor David Condon, Police Chief Craig Meidl, and Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer issued the following statement supporting victims of domestic violence and giving them a voice:
“As local leaders we support giving victims a voice. It is our jobs and responsibilities to make sure we provide a safe place in our neighborhoods, communities, places of work, and other places we congregate for victims to speak up and advocates to speak out.
The allegations are very serious. Violence against women is a problem plaguing our country and dominating headlines nationally, and Spokane is no different. Too many women are victims and we have more speaking up every day.
This is not an easy discussion. It will take time and many more steps forward, but we must continue to stand against violence and for the voice of victims in our community.
As leaders of a city government, police department and fire department, we have taken steps to increase reporting options, make victims more comfortable coming forward, and protecting them when they are courageous enough to speak up. The police department has partnered with the YWCA to open the Family Justice Center, a center of excellence that puts victim assistance, advocacy, enforcement, and prosecution together in one location. Police officers visit offenders in jail and follow up with victims in their homes to make sure they continue to get the assistance and support they need through the prosecution process.
As much as we would like, change does not happen overnight. It will require a determination and diligence that we will continue to lead and demand that others join.”
Who can we trust when some of our allies and advocates are, themselves, abusers?
Former President of the Spokane NAACP and current community leader, Phil Tyler has been accused by three previous wives of decades of verbal and physical abuse for which there is an extensive amount of documentation and witness testimony. In this article, Tyler has denied all allegations and claims to have no recollection of the assault for which he was convicted.
At Spokane Area NOW, we believe women. We believe Chloe. We believe Darci. We believe Katrina. We believe all women who bravely come forward to tell their truths and end the silence that pervades our society and culture regarding violence, disrespect, and degradation towards and against women.
Because a woman does not report abuse or because a man has not abused every woman with whom he has been, it does not make that prior abuse invisible. The incidents highlighted in this article are deeply concerning, brutal, and, toxic. This is not a three-decades-long campaign to destroy one man’s success. This is a three-decades-long timeline of one man's documented aggression, control, violence, and persistent abuse.
Yet, there is a strong overtone of victim blaming and gaslighting in Tyler’s responses. There is no way for the community to move forward until there is an acknowledgment of his role in these incidents. We cannot begin to heal survivors of domestic violence, or repair the trust of a community until abusers accept responsibility instead of continued repudiation. Mr. Tyler, we call on you to take accountability for your actions. There is room for redemption but you must take the first step.
And because of the We Will Rise video, we request that all of the men who appeared alongside Tyler: Spokane Mayor David Condon, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, and Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer release their own statements regarding domestic violence. We, and the Spokane community, would like to understand the measures you will take to ensure the City and County agencies, over which you have authority, are offering services and protections to women in abusive situations - as well as how you plan to follow through on your claim to rise with us against sexual harassment and assault. Until we hear your words and obtain your assurances, your promises in this video will remain unfulfilled.
We finally encourage Mayor Condon, Police Chief Meidl, Sheriff Knezovich, and Fire Chief Schaeffer to invoke their friendships with Tyler to encourage him to take onus of his actions so our community and the women involved can begin healing.