City Council considers making Pullman a welcoming city

Chief Jenkins awards Grant Porter and Allison Schomburg with the Lifesaving Award Tuesday night. 

TYLER WATSON, Evergreen reporter

Medals were presented and tempers flared in a small crowded room in City Hall during Tuesday’s Pullman City Council meeting.

The council introduced a proposal to pronounce the City of Pullman a welcoming city for immigrants and honored three students for their bravery.

A welcoming city, which is different from a sanctuary city, demonstrates the city’s emphasis on inclusion and zero tolerance for discrimination, but Pullman would still comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and federal laws. A sanctuary city instead means law enforcement would not comply with ICE.

“We’re not saying a sanctuary city, we are saying a welcoming city,” Mayor Glenn Johnson said in response to concerns about illegal immigrants within city limits.

Johnson said Pullman has grown and prospered from diversity, and the City Council wants to reaffirm their welcoming commitment to residents and visitors regardless of their country of origin.

“Words are wind,” Grady Matthew Kramer Wright, who is not a citizen of Pullman but spoke at the meeting, said. “Merely saying we are a welcoming city is not enough.”

Caralina Silva, a Ukrainian citizen and third-year doctorate student whose brother was deported by ICE in 2011, spoke in favor of the resolution as a representative of the Crimson Group, an undocumented student group at WSU.

“I have every bit of right as everyone in this room to feel protected by my local law enforcement,” Silva said. “I’m a human being, and I have every right to report crimes and not feel threatened on a day-to-day basis.”

The proposal still needs to be voted on and was only up for discussion Tuesday night.

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins presented the first award of Outstanding Citizen to Kaycee Faber. The award recognizes a private citizen who substantially assists the Pullman Police Department or contributes to the department in an extraordinary manner, Jenkins said.

KEISHA BROKAW | The Daily Evergreen
Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins awards Kaycee Faber the Outstanding Citizen award at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

“The actions of Kaycee Faber not only served to protect herself,” Jenkins said, “but also removed from our community a person who presents a danger to the public and would likely have assaulted others less capable of defending themselves.”

A man followed Faber home just after midnight on May 5 and forced his way into her apartment, where he attempted to strangle her. Faber fought the man off and pushed him out of the door before calling 911. The Pullman Police were able to find the suspect, who Faber positively identified, shortly after her call. The suspect, Juan Alejandro Mendoz Ortiz, is currently awaiting trial in Whitman County Jail for first-degree burglary and second degree assault, Jenkins said.

KEISHA BROKAW | The Daily Evergreen
Audience members listen to speakers at the Pullman City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Jenkins then presented the Lifesaving Award to WSU freshman wide receiver Grant Porter and University of Idaho student Allison Schomburg. The award recognizes individuals for actions which result in the preservation of a human life, Jenkins said, and it is the same medal given to police officers. The two students intervened when they saw a 24-year-old man standing on a chair with a rope around his neck under a basketball hoop just after midnight on May 10, Jenkins said. They called the Pullman Police and waited with the man, potentially preventing a suicide.

“At a time when many people just don’t want to get involved, Grant and Allison got involved,” Jenkins said, “and their actions saved a life.”

Correction: Grady Matthew Kramer Wright’s name was misspelled.