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Race, Justice & Democracy

Race, Justice & Democracy

In partnership with The Center for a New Washington at Heritage University and Humanities Washington, KCTS 9 hosted an evening panel discussion about one of the most difficult and important issues facing our country: the relationship between a person's race and his or her experience of justice and democracy in the U.S. today. The event took place on Thursday, September 10 in Yakima. Stream the live recording here on KCTS 9, and view the broadcast on October 13. 

In recent months, racial profiling and racial bias in law enforcement and the judicial system have been making headlines. From protesters interrupting presidential candidates to the riots in Ferguson, MO and Pasco, WA, many citizens are angry and frightened, but all are demanding answers and change. Along with a panel discussion, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and share personal experiences.



  • Enrique Cerna, KCTS 9 Director of Community Partnerships


  • Mark O'Mara, CNN legal analyst and attorney
  • Dr. Christopher Parker, University of Washington associate professor of political science
  • Sue Rahr, Executive Director of Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and a member of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing
  • Mirta Laura Contreras, Directing Attorney for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Eastern Washington Office


KCTS 9 / Elway Poll 

KCTS 9 and The Elway Poll conducted a 400-person sample poll of registered Washington voters on the subject of race relations. Results show that voters are divided on the current condition (good or bad) of national race relations, while 86% think race relations in their own communities are good. In addition, 2.5 times as many people think race relations are getting worse, but the majority think there will eventually be a solution

View a gallery of the results.

View full poll results, including methodology and questions.

Feature photo taken by Andy Sawyer.


About the Moderator

The son of Mexican immigrants, Enrique Cerna was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. Enrique joined KCTS 9 in January, 1995. He has anchored current affairs programs, moderated statewide political debates, and produced and reported stories for national PBS programs as well as local documentaries on such topics as juvenile justice, salmon recovery, and civil rights.

Enrique has earned five Northwest region Emmy awards and numerous other honors. In June, he was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter’s Silver Circle for his work as a television professional.

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Here are some of my observations and thoughts.

Trayvon Martin - A neighborhood watch person should have a phone; not a gun.

Michael Brown - He should have been arrested, not killed. Officer Wilson should have waited for the back up he had called for.

Eric Garner - He was known to the officers involved and considered a nuisance. He should not have been jumped by 4 or 5 policemen. The issue of taxes not being paid by the sale of individual cigarettes is lame, and that day he was not selling cigarettes. Most people go to the Indian Reservation to buy their cigarettes to avoid paying taxes, and the very wealthy hide their money to avoid paying taxes. I believe by choking him his carotid sinus was traumatized which probably caused his blood pressure to drop. A senseless death for sure.

Freddy Gray - When you are arrested, your health and well being is to be protected by the police. This was obviously not the case here.

I could go on and on. Feel free to contact me if you wish. I will not be able to attend the debate at Yakima Valley Museum unfortunately.

Thank you,

Christine Heidt