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A day after KKK fliers found, Huntington Beach City Council denounces hate speech and white supremacy

A computer screen shows nine people in three rows of three frames.
Councilwoman Natalie Moser speaks during Monday night’s virtual Huntington Beach City Council meeting.
(Screen capture by Matt Szabo)

The Huntington Beach City Council late Monday denounced hate speech and white supremacy, less than 48 hours after Ku Klux Klan fliers were found in the downtown area.

The fliers showed up in a block of 18th Street on Easter morning, police said, and were promoting a “White Lives Matter” rally planned for the Huntington Beach Pier the following Sunday.

Tension has been building since word of the rally surfaced last week, when similar fliers promoting the KKK were distributed in the Newport Heights area of Newport Beach. On Monday afternoon, Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr released a statement denouncing the fliers as “a cowardly attempt to drum up support for a hateful cause that is in direct contradiction to Huntington Beach’s values of integrity, respect and inclusivity.”

Carr pointed out that the city is one of the few in Orange County with its own human relations task force.

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“Contrary to what you might hear, Huntington Beach is having these hard conversations and becoming a leader in combating racism,” Carr said in the statement.

The conversation continued at the City Council meeting on Monday, with three items submitted by council members getting approved. The first, proposed by Carr and Councilman Dan Kalmick, denounced all hate crimes and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to safety and inclusivity for all.

The item also asks the Human Relations Task Force to work with the Huntington Beach Police Department to publish data summaries of reported hate crimes and incidents on the task force’s website and the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website on a quarterly basis. Carr said it was crafted in reaction to the recent surge in anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander hate crimes.

It passed 6 to 0, with Councilman Erik Peterson abstaining. The vote was the same for a later agenda item, introduced by Kalmick, that denounced any movements promoting or supporting white supremacy in Huntington Beach.

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Mayor Kim Carr released a statement Monday denouncing the KKK fliers that were found in downtown area Huntington Beach.
Mayor Kim Carr released a statement Monday afternoon denouncing the KKK fliers that were found in the downtown area of Huntington Beach.
(Courtesy of city of Huntington Beach)

Councilwoman Natalie Moser’s item aimed to have the city cosponsor a virtual event with Orange County Human Relations, as well as direct staff to coordinate an event promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at Central Park on April 18. That item was approved by a 7-0 vote.

Most resident call-ins and emails supported the three items.

Pat Goodman, vice president of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, said during public comments that the organization is concerned about the persistence of extremist hate groups gathering in Huntington Beach.

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“Hate has no place in Huntington Beach,” Goodman said. “We believe that every human life has infinite value, and that each of us deserves respect, love and support. Let us come together across our city and all across this country in the spirit of unity, to begin dialogues of understanding to eradicate racism, extremism and hate.”

Lisa Marquise called in urging the City Council to “use everything you’ve got” to show white supremacists that they are not welcome.

“The Klan is coming here because they think that you will do nothing,” she said. “They’ve seen racist bullies come to downtown this past year, in one guise or another, and face zero consequences.”

Peterson said that, while he was obviously against hate crimes and hate speech, he could not support the items because he didn’t see them effecting any change.

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“Part of this society is letting people spew their [stuff] on both sides,” Peterson said. “If they get out of control and break our laws, our police need to come down hard on them.… I actually don’t know when words started hurting people. I grew up with, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’”

Councilwoman Natalie Moser responded that using that adage was “shameful” in this context and dismissive of community members’ experiences.

“All of us should be able to feel safe in the community, and words do have power,” she said.

Szabo writes for Times Community News.


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