Joint statement between the plaintiffs, Perkins Coie LLP, and the ACLU of Washington, regarding settlement in S.A.F.E. v. Selah

News Release: 
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
SELAH — The Selah Alliance for Equality (S.A.F.E.) and the City of Selah, WA have agreed to a settlement to dismiss a case SAFE filed against the City in 2020 after community members alleged the city censored their free speech by erasing chalk messages and confiscating and destroying signs in support of racial equality and the Black Lives Matter movement. The settlement agreement will not be finalized until it is signed by all the parties, and the parties are still collecting the final signatures from the Defendants.

Plaintiffs Selah Alliance for Equality (S.A.F.E.), Courtney Hernandez, Reverend Donald Davis Jr., Laura Perez, Anita Callahan, Kalah James, Amanda Watson, Charlotte Town, and Anna Whitlock have signed a settlement agreement with the City of Selah, Mayor Sherry Raymond, and Selah’s former City Administrator Donald Wayman. The agreement between the parties is a step toward ensuring that the constitutional right to free speech is upheld and respected in Selah. Additionally, the City has agreed to make meaningful steps toward ensuring that all Selah residents feel included and welcome in their community.

According to the settlement agreement, the City agrees to:
  • Refrain from selectively enforcing its sign code—Section 10.38 of the Selah Municipal Code— or any subsequent version of the sign code, to unconstitutionally prohibit speech.
  • Bestow an honorary name upon Volunteer Park in recognition of an impactful leader in the community.
  • Implement a plan for increasing the diversity of the applicant pool for City employment opportunities.
  • Implement diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all City employees.
  • Fund a mural on North First Street to promote the message that Selah is a welcoming and diverse community.
  • Pay S.A.F.E. a settlement amount of $300,000 (funds to be distributed by Perkins Coie, LLP).
In return, Plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss their lawsuit, which alleges that the City, its Mayor, and the former City Administrator violated Plaintiffs’ freedom of speech under the United States and Washington Constitutions.

The plaintiffs, Perkins Coie LLP, and the ACLU of Washington had this reaction:

“S.A.F.E. sees this settlement agreement as an opportunity for the community to reconcile, move forward, and work toward better respecting and understanding each other. Selah is a place for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or disability. S.A.F.E. stands with all Selah residents and will work to ensure they are included and celebrated.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph P. Cutler, Carolyn Gilbert, Reina Almon-Griffin, Jacob Taber, Jane E. Carmody, and Roxanne Degens of Perkins Coie LLP; and Antoinette Davis, Nancy Talner, and Yvonne Chin of the ACLU of Washington.