August 7th, 2012

Washington Community Rights Network  
A special project of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Washington Communities Launch Statewide Network
To Advocate for Community Rights

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“The corporate state is not science fiction. It’s barreling through my community in the form of coal trains. Government isn’t going to stop this kind of destructive behavior. It’s going to take people, in the places where we live, to break the chokehold of law favoring corporate rule to one of community rights.” – Rick Dubrow of Bellingham, Washington.

August 7, 2012
CONTACT: Kai Huschke

SPOKANE: In late July, citizens from Washington communities gathered in Spokane to launch theWashington Community Rights Network (WCRN).

Network members released The Spokane Declaration, calling upon communities across the state to join together in a movement to elevate the rights of people, their communities, and nature above the claimed rights of corporations.  This comes with an understanding, as stated in the Declaration, that:

(O)ur communities are under siege from corporations exploiting our communities for resource extraction and a variety of other uses harmful to us and the natural environment…from a structure of law that has bestowed greater rights on those corporations than the communities in which they operate…

The creation of the Washington Community Rights Network comes out of active community campaigns on both sides of the Cascades.  Bellingham has qualified a Community Bill of Rights initiative for the November 2012 ballot.  The measure would secure residents rights to clean air and water, along with prohibiting coal trains from passing through Bellingham.

In Spokane, an effort is underway to qualify a third Community Bill of Rights for the November 2013 ballot.  In 2011 voters nearly passed a similar measure that would’ve given neighborhood residents decision-making power over major development, greater protections for the river and aquifer, and worker rights over that of corporate rights.  Seattle, Vancouver, Skagit County, Whatcom County, and other Washington communities are at various stages of community rights efforts.

The Network will expand its grassroots organizing to communities across Washington.  Kai Huschke, Legal Defense Fund Organizer and WCRN Coordinator, explained, “As a growing number of communities face threats including massive coal shipments, they are reaching the shared conclusion that corporations, along with our state and federal government, have more power to decide what happens in our communities than the people who live there.  They are now coming together through the Washington Community Rights Network to organize for local self-governance to elevate community rights over corporate rights.”

The Washington Community Rights Network is a special project of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.  The Legal Defense Fund, headquartered in Mercersburg, PA, with offices in Spokane, has been working with people and communities in Pennsylvania, across the United States, and internationally since 1995 to assert fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, recognize nature’s rights, and end destructive corporate actions aided and abetted by state and federal governments.   

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