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This article originally appeared on the Token Majority on October 26th.

By Melanie Nguyen

Last Saturday, Stritmatter attorneys Fred Rabb, Furhad Sultani, and I (Melanie Nguyen) attended the 2022 Judge Charles V. Johnson Youth & Law Forum at the Tukwila Community Center. There, kids learned about basic legal rights and responsibilities. The purpose of the program is to maintain bridges between community youth and community justice participants. The program was filled with community members, lawyers, judges, activists, and police officers who spoke about their roles and responsibilities in the community.

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I loved hearing a young artist read a poem about her growth, listening to a panel of police officers answer questions like ‘do you think police officers should consider not carrying guns like in European countries?’, and watching young kids make a campaign pitch after listening to King County councilmember Girmay Zahilay talk about what he does for work. As a plus, I died meeting my idol, Jewell Lloyd, guard from the Seattle Storm. I turned bright red asking for a photo of her – I was starstruck!!

I remember growing up, not having access to programs like these. I had no idea what lawyers or councilmembers or judges or even police officers did or how they felt about what their role is in the community. It makes such a world of difference and we’re so grateful for Judge LeRoy McCullough for keeping programs like these alive.