Resolutions approved by the city commission are usually done so without much debate.
But debate was generated at the commission meeting on Sept. 26 with a city resolution “denouncing hatred, intolerance, extremism and discrimination” which was sent to President Donald Trump, the White House, Congress, and others.
The resolution stems from the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia in August and Trump’s response. Trump, who condemned hatred “on both sides,” was criticized for painting a false equivocation between Nazis, the KKK, other racist groups, and the counter protesters who opposed them.
On the day of the attacks, Aug. 12, which included one man driving a car into anti-white supremacist protesters, killing one person and injuring others, Trump condemned the violence and hatred “on many sides” but did not mention any white supremacist group by name. Two days later, Trump did condemn racism and call out the groups by name. The next day, Aug. 15, Trump reverted back to saying there was “blame on both sides” and “you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”
Commissioner Tom Green said he wished he had listened to Vice Mayor Justin Flippen who originally wanted stronger language in the resolution. “The president continues to make insensitive and divisive comments . . . I have trouble believing those were really good people. Perhaps in their own minds,” he said, referring to the racist groups who carried torches and chanted “Jews will not replace us.”
Flippen replied that, in the interests of unity, he toned-down the language but still feels the same message is being sent. “This commission, made up of many diverse groups, speaks out for equality, for inclusivity, for diversity, for a stronger America, for a stronger neighborhood, and for a stronger city.”
Although the resolution was approved unanimously and no one on the commission said they were against speaking out against racism and bigotry, Mayor Gary Resnick wondered if it was the right move.
“This is exactly what he wants us to do,” the mayor said about Trump.
Resnick said Trump wants people talking about racism and bigotry because it gets the country’s attention focused away from the real issues he doesn’t want people talking about, such as hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and his use of the presidency to enrich himself financially. “He wants to distract people from real issues.”
Flippen responded by saying that he would support any separate resolutions, addressing those other issues Resnick brought up, but that racism and bigotry are “real issues” that need to be addressed.