On July 20, many of Santa Clarita’s own community organizations and activists came together to release a joint statement to highlight their concerns regarding inaction by the Santa Clarita City Council. After countless protests and several meetings with city officials, local organizers have composed a statement that addresses the many voices that echo in the community and have filled the City Council chambers for months. Organizers have demanded the city to re-establish the Human Relations Forum in school districts and city government, add amendments to the council’s norms and procedures, and adopt city policy on the use of force, racial profiling, and civilian review of the Sheriff’s Department contract and disciplinary process.
Community members have demanded the council to act, attending every opportunity for public participation at City Council meetings, but to no avail. The joint statement reads:
“While we appreciate the pleasantries which you have extended to community organizations and citizens calling for reform, it has become clear the City Council as a whole will not act of their own accord. There has been no progress to establish the former Human Relations Forum, amend the city’s norms and procedures, or any effort to make police brutality and abuse of power against the city’s policy. In contrast, the city met peaceful demonstrations with an occupation by the National Guard and instituted an unlawful curfew that the ACLU of Southern California said, ‘[was] not authorized by statutory and municipal law. Furthermore, violate[d] the United States Constitution, including the Constitution’s prohibition on the restriction of free speech and assembly, freedom of movement, and its most basic notice requirements.’
“Both the city of Los Angeles and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have taken steps to enact reforms of their own, while the city of Santa Clarita has maintained its feckless leadership with a willful disregard for public safety[…]
“We carry the burden of uprooting systemic racism that has long festered behind a veil of color-blindness. Nevertheless, we stand with pure intentions and hope that we may inspire the next generation of advocates for justice, peace and true equality. We are grateful for the unity you have brought, as the community has rallied together to say enough is enough.
“Community activists, student organizations, political interest groups, and most importantly voters now realize their collective strength.”
It was signed: Civil Advocacy Network, SCV for Change, SCV Workers for Equal Opportunity, Rise Up SCV, SCVoices, Democratic Alliance for Action of Santa Clarita, Voters for Change, SCV Support Circle, Harry Reed Insurance Agency, Antelope Valley Solidarity Collective, No Cops AV, The Valley of Change, B.A.R.E. Truth, and Black Lives Matter Pasadena.
Recently Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda met the repeated requests, which began in late-May for members of the City Council to unequivocally denounce racism and bigotry in the Santa Clarita Valley. He poses that to end racism, we must look inward and reflect on how we as individuals play a role in perpetuating systemic racism in our daily lives. The statement also goes on goes on to say, “How about each of us starts by taking a personal oath, one that we commit not just to others, but to ourselves: ‘I will not think, feel or do racist things nor tolerate those that do.’ That would be a good first step toward ending racism as we know it.”
Following the statement, Miranda was then berated in (online comments) by constituents who were clearly unhappy about his remarks, which only highlights the dire need for the community to rally around the Black Lives Matter movement. Mayor Pro Tem Miranda, we recognize the courage you exhibited to speak out as the rest of the City Council has remained silent, and we wholeheartedly appreciate your remarks. We hope this is a turning point for our city, and will be met with a renewed effort to reach a vision for justice and equity for all.
It is not only activists who hold these values with great importance. Calls for accountability can be heard globally, with protests popping up in London, Paris, and even Taipei.
The changes presented to the City Council are not of radical nature. They ensure compassion and care are set forth on the local level, to protect our community from those who are sworn to protect and serve. We are calling for all Santa Clarita residents to be included in the conversation, as their voices have been stifled for far too long.
Christian Olmos and Andrea Fleming