There has been considerable tension the past few weeks in our country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the knee of a white police officer. Combine this with COVID-19, and its disproportionate effects on minority groups, and we have what many are calling the perfect storm.
That horrific video set off a series of events, worldwide, that some see as a truly defining moment in American history and people demanding change in the way police and local government deal with such issues.
On June 3, during one of the many peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in Monrovia, Mayor Tom Adams made some comments that offended many in the community who said he (Adams) was out of touch with the efforts of Black Lives Matter locally.
During public comment at the virtual City Council meeting Tuesday, scores of citizens voiced passionate concerns about the recent events and the multiple Black Lives Matter protests as well as that speech at Library Park by Mayor Adams. Read aloud by City Clerk Alice Atkins, here are a few of those comments.
“It is my sincere hope that Monrovia will loudly and proudly announce that we are a community that will stand strongly against racism,” said Kristen-Norton Zellem.
Another resident, Janet Wall, said “It seems to me that now is the time to not just listen, but to take action to fix these issues (concerning race relations) that are real whether or not we want to admit it.”
Calling Adams’ June 3 remarks “seriously tone deaf and dismissive,” Nikki Montoya stressed the thoughts of many who implied Adams basically said “I have a black friend,” in responses. Montoya told Adams “you clearly have a lot to learn.”
Several other residents voiced the collective concern that local government doesn’t listen. “Do better and listen to all of your community,” Joshua Salinas said.
One letter from Ali Lauder who said she is “A very angry citizen of Monrovia” addressed Adams directly regarding a comment he made on KGEM during an interview with Ralph Walker. Walker asked Adams if he could say the words “Black Lives Matter?” Lauder said Adams deflected and ignored the question and accused the mayor of being racist.
In his opening remarks, the mayor apologized if people took his comments the wrong way and emphatically stated “Black lives matter.”
Adams went on to read a new city proclamation (including all the usual “whereas” etc.) in support of change and justice in Monrovia. “This is the time to change, if we don’t get it now, we never will.” Now is a “moment of reckoning!” Adams’s proclamation also read that people will get justice if they received “inferior treatment” without stating specifics.
After reading the lengthy proclamation, Adams requested that the city manager distribute the document to all Black churches in the city. To which someone later pointed out to the mayor that he should deliver the document to ALL places of worship in the city, not just Black churches. Adams apologized for the omission.
Councilman Larry Spicer asked that councilmembers each select a delegate for an AdHoc committee of citizens for essentially oversight of the city’s ambitions. City Attorney Craig Steele advised council that it should place this as an agenda item for the next scheduled meeting.
Other councilmembers including Becky Shevlin and Gloria Crudgington expressed their desire for the city to recognize Juneteenth. “I think this is more important than Columbus Day,” Crudginton stated. They also noted that there is a Junteeth celebration this Friday at Station Square and were equally supportive of this event.
Mayor ProTempore, Alex Blackburn had no comment.
Friday’s inaugural Juneteeth celebration in Monrovia will take place at 5 p.m. at Station Square Park. There will be voter registration booths, speakers and more. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.