Santa Clarita City Council members listen to members of the community voice their support for various candidates during a special session held at City Hall on Jan. 17 to appoint a fifth member of the City Council following the departure of Dante Acosta in Dec. 2016. Valencia resident William Miranda was selected to fill the seat. Dan Watson/ The Signal
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The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution affirming Santa Clarita’s commitment to diversity at its Feb. 14 meeting. The vote came after the resolution was first proposed at the November City Council meeting last year but initially rejected from placement on the agenda despite appeals from local activists.

The resolution simply states: “The city of Santa Clarita believes that diversity is a critical component of a thriving, successful city, and that commitment to diversity strengthens communities, deepens bonds between neighbors, and underlies the welcoming environment that makes Santa Clarita a great community.”

The passage of the resolution hasn’t garnered as much attention as it deserves. Coverage in the local media of the run-up to the vote was thorough, but coverage of the actual passage itself fell somewhat short.

In order for the resolution to fulfill its intended purpose, it needs to be publicized. Additionally, the City Council deserves some amount of praise for passing the resolution, and local activists deserve recognition for pressing the council to consider this important issue.

Despite the current political environment, our community has a good track record when it comes to inclusion. Before the resolution was passed several of the City Council members individually voiced their support for creating an inclusive environment.

Mayor Smyth specifically mentioned efforts to make sure that all the city’s residents felt welcome in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

This environment is fostered by the efforts of local activist groups as well. The organization Muslims of Santa Clarita (MoSC) have been working to build bridges between residents of Santa Clarita and the city’s growing Muslim population.

They do this by reaching out to local clubs, religious institutions and activist organizations and communicating what their faith means to them and to other members of their community.

At a recent meeting of Santa Clarita Friendly Progressive Families, a few of the presenters from MoSC expressed their gratitude for living in a community as inclusive as Santa Clarita.

Despite the welcoming nature of our city, it is useful for the City Council to go on record regarding the importance of maintaining a diverse and inclusive community.

According to recent FBI reports, hate crimes in the United States increased by 7 percent from 2014 to 2015, mostly fueled by a spike in hate crimes against Muslims. Early indications show that this trend may have continued in 2016 as well.

In an era when hate crimes are increasingly on the rise and the crimes themselves are garnering an increased level of public attention, resolutions like the one just passed provide a useful counter-narrative to the high-profile incidents occurring across the country.

Even though there has been a recent increase in these types of incidents, the United States has a good track record of interfaith relations throughout its history.

Although we are by no means perfect, we have managed to avoid the kind of sectarian conflict seen in places like Ireland, Serbia, Iraq and parts of Africa.

These sorts of proclamations are one way to convey our commitment to that facet of American exceptionalism, but only if they are properly communicated.

Because of this, our local activists deserve credit for raising this issue and our City Council deserves our thanks for passing this resolution. Now let’s publicly recognize the resolution and those who worked hard to get it passed.

Chad Kampbell is a Santa Clarita Valley resident and a member of a local Democratic club.

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  • Gil Mertz

    Or to put it another way,

    Please don’t treat Trump supporters with the same violence and disrespect we see in other parts of America and please don’t treat Muslims the way they treat Christians in their countries.

  • Ron Bischof

    For those that desire a more complete set of statistics than those selected by Mr. Kambell, here are the particulars with the source link:

    Religious bias (Based on Table 1.)

    Hate crimes motivated by religious bias accounted for 1,354 offenses reported by law enforcement. A breakdown of the bias motivation of religious-biased offenses showed:

    51.3 percent were anti-Jewish.

    22.2 percent were anti-Islamic (Muslim).

    4.4 percent were anti-Catholic.

    4.2 percent were anti-multiple religions, group.

    3.7 percent were Anti-Eastern Orthodox (Russian, Greek, Other).

    3.5 percent were anti-Protestant.

    1.3 percent were anti-Other Christian.

    0.6 percent were Anti-Mormon

    0.4 percent (6 offenses) were Anti-Sikh.

    0.4 percent (5 offenses) were Anti-Hindu.

    0.1 percent (2 offenses) were anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.

    0.1 percent (1 offense) were Anti-Buddhist.

    0.1 percent (1 offense) were Anti-Jehovah’s Witness.

    7.7 percent were anti-other (unspecified) religion.

    • Gil Mertz

      Interesting Ron. Though anti-Jewish offenses are nearly DOUBLE that of anti-Mulsim offenses, the writer never mentions the word Jew or Jewish in her column. Why?

  • Rick Eaton

    I find it interesting that the city is all of the sudden interested in Diversity. For years the city sponsored a Human Relations Forum that held a Diversity Week, arranged for speakers to come to schools and the activities center and sponsored an Essay and Poster contest for students. A few years ago the forum was arbitrarily shut down without a word. If the city is serious about Diversity maybe it is time for a revival. It appears to me that Greg Lee the Diversity Coordinator at the Hart District is one of the few people taking this subject seriously. As one who daily works in the field of monitoring hate, I can tell you the figures below are important but they do not represent the full measure of the problem we have in this this country.

    • Ron Bischof

      The FBI figures appear to capture law enforcement reporting, Mr. Eaton.

      I note your usage of diversity as a proper noun and that you work daily “in the field of monitoring hate”. Since you’re commenting in a local newspaper forum, what’s “the full measure of the problem” in the Santa Clarita Valley? Please be specific.

      • Rick Eaton

        Hate crimes statistics have been severely lacking since they were first mandated by Congress in the early 1990s. Yes, they are calculated by law enforcement agencies but many do not have an appropriate procedure to do so. There is also a category of hate incidents (encounters that do not rise to the level of a crime) and those have been up substantially in the past year, but are no tallied everywhere. Accurate statistics are not always available and those on a national basis are not released until well into the following year if then.

        • Ron Bischof

          General and non-responsive to my inquiry about Santa Clarita specifics, Mr. Eaton. When there’s an assertion about a societal problem that isn’t documented with data, my initial position is skepticism.

          Are you in the “Diversity” industry?

  • Frank Rizzo

    This is nothing more than virtue signalling.

    As a Hispanic man (my grandfather LEGALLY immigrated) I hire the best people for the job when hiring. I don’t care what you race, sex or religion is. But I shouldn’t be forced to pick by quota.

    Remember this:
    Hillary Clinton’s cabinet plan reveals her racism with EPA pick: ‘likely an African-American’

    Luckily we avoided the disaster known as Hillary