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Santa Barbara City Council approves resolution condemning police brutality and declaring racism a public health crisis

Santa Barbara City Council votes on resolution against police brutality in wake of protests
SB City Council Meeting on BLM
Tracy Lehr

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The death of George Floyd is becoming a catalyst for change in the City of Santa Barbara.

Following a number of protests, Mayor Cathy Murillo got an earful from residents who want the city to meet the demands of Black Lives Matter Santa Barbara and Healing Justice Santa Barbara.

"We are all ready for change, we are ready to take action, and someone said today 'let this be just the beginning. How much farther are you going to take it?' And those are the discussions we will have," said Murillo.

Some council members spoke to BLM leaders before taking up issues at the council meeting on Tuesday.

On the day of Floyd's funeral in Texas, Santa Barbara City Councilmembers took their first step by unanimously passing a newly proposed resolution condemning police brutality and declaring racism a public health crisis.

Krystle Sieghart of Healing Justice Santa Barbara said, "Defunding the police means that the police will be funded, but the police will not be overfunded. They should not take up large portions of the budget. We should redistribute the money back into our communities, invest in our communities. The police officers are not mental health specialists, they are not social workers, they are not education specialists, they are not trained to handle these situations."

They also want the city to create an independent police review board to add some sunshine to the police department's disciplinary process.

The council will consider its options to do just that on July 21.

But Mayor Murillo said voters have already approved funding to build a new police station, so that is still in the works.

BLM Santa Barbara will likely see the city preserve black landmarks such as the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Franklin Center.

The Historic Landmarks Commission will take up the topic on Wednesday.

Simone Akila said she was also pleased to hear the city allocate $35,000 to Juneteenth rather than just assigning the funding to the library. She is a cofounder of the local event and a Healing Justice organizer.

The Black Independence Day celebration will be held virtually on Friday June 19th. 

"For black people Juneteenth is an incredible day and that is another reason it was so important that the people who brought this Black Independence Day celebration to Santa Barbara, we're still included in the conversations about how Juneteenth would be celebrated. So I am excited that our city council has realized that and that they are correcting that error, rather than just assigning it to a city department without ever including black people and I am really looking forward to what will come next," said Akila.

She said she is also looking forward to having a summit to discuss supporting black people in the community.

"Even though people talk about this as a moment, this has been in the works for years, and even more than that, for centuries," said Akila.

She said she saw the city council taking the first steps in undoing some of the harm that has been caused to people of color.

"It has taken centuries for these systems of racism to gain deep roots in our country, and our city, and it will equally take significant amounts of time to undo that. "

Akila called it a day of gratitude.

Mayor Murillo said she feels humbled by both women and all of the speakers who shared their thoughts.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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