An edited version of this letter was emailed to Councilman Bob Kellar and cc’d to all City Council members and city managers on July 18:
This is my third letter. I have not received a response from the first two. The news just announced the death of Rep. John Lewis, a peaceful warrior in our past and continual fight for civil rights and equality for Black people in this country — a concept you seem to struggle to have compassion for.
I feel empathy for you having watched you sitting in your seat with a grim look on your face listening to the audibly shaking and brave young voices on the July 14 City Council meeting — continuing to demand your resignation for your previous comments and inability to stand up against racism.
Remember the feeling and what your body was doing in that moment? That is how it feels to be a Black person in this country. You experienced a little taste of what it feels like to not be accepted and pushed down. Black people feel much worse and live in constant fear as their lives are threatened every day.
You don’t know if you will run into a police officer who will assume you are a criminal and strong-arm you until you’re dead or just ask a few questions and let you go. Imagine feeling this scared all of the time and what that would do to your health?
In the words of Tim Whyte from The Signal, “our council whiffed,” again.
Once again, Mr. Kellar, you have brought shame to this community by doubling down on your beliefs, going as far to call the young people of Santa Clarita “Marxists” and “clueless” about the Constitution and the history of America, assuming that they are somehow brainwashed by others when it is obvious that they have organized themselves.
Once again, you have demonstrated your lack of compassion and willingness to correct your bad judgment, and the rest of the City Council just sits silently while you rant, enabling your behavior.
Let’s not forget about the protesters on June 4, who were from our community, who live and work and go to school in Santa Clarita, exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest, and it must be pointed out that the City Council demonstrated a severe lack of communication and understanding, being so out of touch with the community in their charge that they called in the National Guard, an expensive and unnecessary act.
Let’s not forget that this pandemic has pushed Black people and people of color to the brink of suffering and it goes without saying that they are on America’s front lines as health care workers, farm workers, meat packers; the two Black men who monitor the doors and face angry customers who refuse to wear masks at (a local bank and market); and the first person in Santa Clarita who died of COVID-19 was a Black man, Jory Bohanan, a Santa Clarita city transit bus driver.
It is intellectually dishonest to counter Black Lives Matter with Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter. These arguments are politically meaningless. The point of Black Lives Matter is that Black Americans are dying at higher percentages than any other group and their population is a small one, making it more apparent that we are not taking care of Black lives in this country. Reducing the violence against Black people makes everyone safe — the police and suburban white people, everyone.
Declaring “fill-in-the-blank lives matter” is just changing the subject. Let’s stop doing that. The fact is that America was built by Black lives and in 2020, Black lives are saving America.
I know you will resign on your own time. You will likely hold on to your beliefs until the bitter end. But there is a community here that is good, filled with amazing people who care about Black lives and want to solve the real problem of violence with the Black community and the police so that everyone is safer. I hope you will change your mind. I hope you will come to a better conclusion. There is still time to fix your heart.
Lisa M. McDougald