‘Unacceptable’ racist message left near Black councilman’s vandalized sign in Tri-Cities

Incumbent Pasco City Councilman Irving Brown Sr. says he’s the victim of hate speech while campaigning for election this year. Brown said a racist message was left near a political sign that was vandalized. He is the only Black candidate running for Pasco council.

The Pasco community is condemning the actions of a person who left a racist message by a vandalized campaign sign for city council incumbent Irving Brown Sr.

In a Facebook Live video, Brown said he was “more than frustrated” though “definitely not angry” to find the written message next to one of his damaged signs along Road 68.

The message found Friday read: “No N****** For Dist-3” in black marker.

Brown is the only Black councilman in Pasco and the only Black candidate running for the council.

“This is unacceptable,” Brown, 56, said. “This type of behavior is gross and totally unnecessary. Pasco, don’t allow this.”

He plans to file a report with the Pasco Police Department and the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, the state agency that oversees campaign fundraising.

A 15-year Pasco resident and human resources manager, Brown was appointed by the city council to represent District 3 last year after Nikki Torres resigned to run for a seat in the Washington Legislature.

Brown is running for his first full, four-year term on the council. District 3 encompasses large swaths of Northeast Pasco, including neighborhoods around the Tri-Cities Airport and King’s Corner.

He said this incident should stand as an opportunity to educate the public about ignorance in the community. He hopes community members can work to inform, educate and eradicate racism in the Tri-Cities.

“All this did was get me more fired up to run and stand as an equal-opportunity community leader, activist, intelligent, sharp-to-the-curb African American male who’s proud to be a father of two awesome children,” he said in the video. “I am highly irritated.”

Brown is asking for more campaign donations to replace his vandalized campaign signs and to rally volunteers. He also urged Pasco residents to get out the vote on Nov. 7.

He has raised more than $2,500 in donations and has spent more than $4,500 on his campaign, according to PDC filings. Brown’s campaign has reported more than $1,600 in outstanding debts, mostly for campaign signs and for work done by Argo Strategies, a full-service Democratic political firm. However, the council positions are nonpartisan posts.

Candidates running for local office have denounced the attacks on Brown, including Brown’s opponent Leo Perales.

“We are better than this as a community. I ask that we shouldn’t dwell on our differences but focus more on our commonalities as Pasconians. We should strive to be the welcoming community that we are and live out the values that we hold dear here in Pasco, such as respect and community,” he wrote.

Pasco Councilwoman Zahra Roach, who is vacating her seat at the end of the year, said Brown deserves “respect and dignity, and this is not that.” She said she will endorse Brown for the council seat this November.

Peter Harpster, one of the candidates running for Roach’s at-large seat, wrote in the comments that it was “extremely saddening that this kind of hatred exists in our home of Pasco.”

This isn’t the first time the issue of race has been raised recently.

Late last year, during discussions of redistricting, David Cortinas, publisher of the La Voz Hispanic newspaper and president of the Tri-Cities Latin Business Association, voiced frustration that the city council had “given away” Torres’ seat to “an African American” instead of reappointing a Hispanic to the seat.

A number of city council members went on to denounce Cortinas’ comments. He himself would later apologize for his words.