Washington state agency blocked White attendee from seminar targeted to people of color, spokesperson admits

King County officials blamed the action on 'technical issues'

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A county agency in Seattle blocked a government worker from attending a taxpayer-funded seminar because he is White, a spokesperson for the country admitted Wednesday.

The King County Department of Human Resources held a remote seminar titled "Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture" on Feb. 17. An unnamed White staffer at the King's County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) attended the meeting for several minutes without incident, but when he turned his computer's camera on and allowed administrators to observe that he was White, he was removed from the call and blocked from rejoining, according to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

"During the first few minutes I had my front facing camera turned off and was enjoying the training," the employee said in an email to interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall obtained by Rantz. "I turned my front facing camera on and was promptly removed from the training. I am a White male County employee. I said nothing in the training and my microphone was on mute. I tried to rejoin the training and was blocked from doing so as it said I was removed by the host."

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King County spokesperson Chase Gallagher initially told the staffer he had been dropped from the call due to a technical issue that had also affected other participants on the call. A county investigation kicked off following Rantz's inquiry found that was not the case, however.

A view of the Seattle skyline from Lake Union in Washington.

A view of the Seattle skyline from Lake Union in Washington. (Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"Following your inquiry and subsequent information received by staff, an investigation occurred to gather all the facts and full understanding of the events that took place," Gallagher told Rantz. "That investigation found in fact there was a deliberate decision by one of the employees involved in the session to remove an individual from the event. The information provided by that employee led to the response that was relayed to you, which we know now was not accurate."

The employee responsible for blocking the KCSO staffer resigned their position following the investigation, according to Gallagher.

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King County declared racism a "public health crisis" in 2020, but administrators had advertised the "Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture" event as being for "BIPOC employees only." The acronym stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Gallagher stated that the advertisement for the event was in error, despite numerous emails obtained by Rantz showing that county leaders were not only aware of the advertisement, but HR staffers had reached out to multiple employees wishing to attend to confirm their race.

"I see you are signed up for the session on Thursday, Feb. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. This is the one designed to be a safe space for BIPOC employees only," wrote HR staffer Anna Micklin to one employee.

"Thank you for checking, yes I am black and white mixed so I’m really glad this session [sic]," the employee responded.

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The emails also show the county removed references to event being "BIPOC only" from online descriptions following Rantz's inquiry. County Executive Dow Constantine's office did not respond by press time when Fox News asked whether the county would ban events from advertising themselves as racially discriminatory in the future.