SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Recognizing the issues impacting black Americans, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor opened their meetings with comments from all five members about the death of George Floyd after a police stop in Minneapolis.
Chairman Gregg Hart said he is committed to an open dialogue with those impacted by the death or participating in local public gatherings recently.
A rally of over 3000 protestors took place Sunday at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens in Santa Barbara, followed by a peaceful march for several blocks.
Saturday at UC Santa Barbara, hundreds of people also showed up for a rally and speeches about the Floyd's death and critical racial issues.
Since then there have been peaceful rallies, along with some violence in Santa Maria, including damage to the Town Center Mall.
Reading off several incidents across the country Supervisor Joan Hartmann pointed out, in her view, there are frequent cases of injustice documented in America. She praised the organizers of the recent UCSB/Isla Vista rally for the way they communicated their message without violence.
The County is already working on a diversity inclusion plan with training to include among other things, unconscious bias in the work place. That begins July 1.
"Many folks felt they needed to take to the streets," said Supervisor Das Williams. "The rule of law should work without that action." Williams says he has seen local law enforcement make progress on racial issues. Williams continues, "I just want to say to the young people of our community to not become disheartened."
He said we need to live in a "society where everyone is safe walking down the streets."
Supervisor Steve Lavagnino was upset at the violence he saw especially towards law enforcement. Lavagnino said, "As much as I stand with those people who are horrified, lashing out at people that are there trying to protect us is not the answer."
Supervisor Peter Adam said the pictures of George Floyd were "horrifying." He said he is waiting until justice is served but, "I don't what other outcome there could possibly be."
Adam said he is separating those who are honestly protesting from those who are burning and looting.
"We can't have that in our society," Adam said. "Protesting has a high value, (not) looting and destroying things."
Hart said the County will have an agenda item to start addressing this issue at a future date.