CAMARILLO, Calif.-- The City of Camarillo is responding after a video surfaced of city workers washing away a ‘Black Lives Matter’ message written in chalk.
Video taken last week shows Camarillo city employees erasing the letters B-L-M in front of a home. A 10-year-old wrote the message in chalk on the sidewalk, to show support for the black lives matter movement.
“The woman of the household called the city and asked why the city employees had come and removed the message that her daughter wrote and she was told that someone in her neighborhood had reported it as offensive,” said Tiffany Lewis, who is a local activist who lives in Camarillo.
The city tells our newsroom, it received an anonymous complaint about graffiti painted on a public sidewalk and sent a public works crew to clean it up, which is normal policy. The city says it later learned the markings were the letters "B-L-M" written in chalk and not paint.
In a statement the city said…
"Regarding that incident, the City received an anonymous complaint regarding graffiti on a public sidewalk which was reported to be made with paint. The complaint was handled like any other report of graffiti on the public right-of-way, and was removed by Public Works staff. Staff later reported that the markings were the letters "BLM", and were made of chalk and not paint. Responses to graffiti are content-neutral and the City's policy requires staff to immediately remove graffiti in the public right-of-way. Property owners are given a 72-hour abatement notice to remove graffiti from private properties and commercial centers.”
Lewis says this is part of a larger issue.
“This is a problem here in Camarillo,” said Lewis. “We have been peacefully protesting, and writing letters, and we’ve been calling. The city is in an uproar over this, and it has almost become a battle ground.”
Last month-- the city sparked controversy when council-members voted on a resolution committing to racial equality. The original resolution included the phrase "black lives matter," but council-members ultimately voted on a different version.
“Instead what actually happened was mayor Trembley brought his own resolution to the meeting, and proposed that, which was similar in nature but had erased the words Black Lives Matter,” said Lewis.
At the time, the Ventura County Star reported the mayor said there was a difference between saying "black lives matter" and endorsing the official movement. Lewis says the city council needs to listen to the community.
“City Council received over 1,000 emails and calls from people in the community saying that black lives matter is important to them,” said Lewis. “And people from the Black community here in Camarillo have even said that they have experienced it. The fact that the city council members which is our leadership is ignoring it is a significant issue.”