For the 10th time since being declared missing in December 2021, a public gathering in support of 6-year-old Oakley Carlson is set to commence this week, but will be unlike any of the previous nine community rallies.
This Friday, a “silent gathering” will be held at the capitol in Olympia to show support for H.B. 1397, aka the “Oakley Carlson Act.” a bill designed to “improve the operations and oversight of Washington’s child welfare system.” The legislation was formally introduced into the Washington Legislature on Jan. 27 by 19th District Rep. Jim Walsh, who will be in attendance for the gathering.
The date of the gathering holds significance in the saga of finding information regarding the disappearance of the Oakville girl as it will mark the second anniversary since the last “credible sighting” of Oakley, according to records from the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office.
Light the Way Missing Persons Advocacy Project, the organization promoting and leading the gathering, stated the rally is meant to show unified community support for making changes in child welfare policies.
“We will be gathering silently on the two-year anniversary of Oakley Carlson’s last known credible sighting to express the importance of passing H.B. 1397 for the children of Washington,” said Shayna Richard, the founder of Light the Way Missing Persons Advocacy Project, via Facebook. “This bill will allow foster children to take their voices back after Oakley’s voice was tragically ripped away.”
H.B. 1397, if passed, could provide reforms to Washington’s biggest child welfare agency, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The agency has seen much public scrutiny in its handling of reunifying Oakley with her birth parents — Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers — who remain prime suspects in Oakley’s disappearance.
For people who are interested in attending the gathering for Oakley Carlson, the event will be held from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10 at the north steps of the Legislative Building in Olympia.