Weekend block party in Renton aims to provide resources, promote equality and denounce violence

The rise in crime and violence in south King County is sparking outrage amongst residents, but it's also sparking a call to action. 

Communities like Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton and Tukwila saw high numbers of property and violent crimes in 2021. The property crime numbers are already nearing the halfway point in most of those communities this year.

Anthony Curtis is one man who wants to help change that and the people affected. He said for every problem, he is going to work hard to find a solution. Curtis said he believes the problem stems from generations of oppression against Black people and the hardships still felt today.

"It’s time to get to the table with some tangible resources with some things that’s going to really uplift the community and end a lot of this violence, end a lot of this racism," said Curtis.

Violence and racism are what Curtis said has overwhelmed the Black community in south King County. It’s the reason why he’s hosting a community resource event and block party to cultivate a place of unity and encouragement.

"We want to promote health and wealth in the Black community. We want to let them know. That’s why the financial literacy coach is coming out, that’s why real estate agents and business owners and entrepreneurs are coming out to speak to our community and let young people and people in general know that they overcame circumstances," said Curtis.

The event will be Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Safeway in Renton, located at 200 South 3rd Street. That particular store has had its challenges with theft and criminal activity. However, it’s the very place Curtis and the Black Equality Coalition wanted to host the event, hoping to change the narrative of the neighborhood and the mindset of the people affected by the crime.

"To help prevent people from going to prison, preventing them from living house to house or sleeping on couches or not having no place to stay. We want to empower the community with love, with food, with clothes," said Curtis.

During the event, Black business owners will give presentations on equality and justice. Vendors will also be giving away free food, clothing and haircuts.

The idea of the event stems from the work Curtis has done to promote change within himself and his job with UPS. Curtis, a part-time supervisor, and UPS have been working internally to make the workplace more inclusive. It was a shift he felt necessary after the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death sparked hostility nationwide, but for Curtis it launched a conversation.

"I’m not here to antagonize you, I’m here to get this mutual understanding and just hold conversation. So, it was rocky, it was rough, it was difficult. But we made it work and we had phenomenal outcomes, phenomenal result," said Curtis. 

Some of those results included community clean-up projects with UPS, the Black Equality Coalition and volunteers. The collaborations motivated them to do even more for the community, like the upcoming block party hosted at Safeway. Curtis said the event is expected to be the biggest community event between the partnerships.

"The biggest thing is building a bridge of unity—love and resources between corporate and community," said Curtis. "We’re better together, we make a greater impact."

The hope is to promote positive change in the community that could ultimately help curb crime and violence. 

"I can’t focus too much on all the violence that’s going on, I have to keep focusing on the solution. I have to keep focusing on getting people to volunteer, to help, to come out, to lock arms with us to help us push the vision and mission to uplift the people," said Curtis.