Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

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Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency
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Healing Justice: Black Lives Matter SB held a rally and protest Memorial Day weekend against police brutality (edhat file photo)

By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara City Council passed its fiscal year budget and declared racism a Public Health Emergency on Tuesday evening.

The total $345,641,205 budget for the city was balanced and finalized with a 5% cut to all departments, including the police department. The new fiscal year starts on July 1.

Councilmembers acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted sales and hotel tax revenues. 

Mayor Cathy Murillo advocated for transferring specific functions normally handled by the police department, such as parking enforcement and mental health assistance, to the Public Works Department.

A co-response team is being put together by the Department of Behavioral Wellness that will include mental health clinicians who will respond to the appropriate calls alongside police deputies. 

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara Police Department issued a press release on its response to "felony activity" over the weekend.

"During the weekend of Friday, Saturday and Sunday (06-19-2020 through 06-21-2020) the Santa Barbara Police Department received 496 calls for service from the community resulting in 18 filed felony reports (Including assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, rape, burglary, ID theft, domestic battery, terrorist threats, stalking, and DUI causing injury) Of the 18 felony reports, 8 were cleared with arrests and 2 were referred to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The other felony reports will be reviewed by the Criminal Investigations Division," the statement read.

Additionally, the council unanimously passed a resolution condemning police brutality and declaring racism a public health emergency.

The resolution was put forth by the local activist group Healing Justice: Black Lives Matter SB who advocates for transparency within the local police department and racial equity for the Black community. 

"It is nice to see the Santa Barbara City Council finally listen to the community," said one of the Healing Justice leaders Krystle Sieghart. "If anything this pandemic has shown us that we need to really protect and care for our youth and funding programs and services, that protect and care for them is more beneficial."

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Chip of SB Jun 25, 2020 12:57 PM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

I think destroying monuments and changing school curriculums is only the beginning. The state legislature voted to put a measure on the ballot that would overturn prop 209. If passed, this measure will allow the state to implement racially discriminatory policies for college admissions, hiring, and awarding contracts. While marketed as “affirmative action” these policies will in practice amount to racial discrimination directed against people of white and Asian ancestry. The next logical step after “affirmative action” is “land reform.” I think these types of policies are extremely dangerous. Everyone should be treated equally under the law, and no one should ever be given special preference or be discriminated against based on the color of their skin.

CoastWatch Jun 25, 2020 11:38 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

A City or municipality's responsibilty, ESPECIALLY one the size of Santa Barbara is NOT social welfare. City responsibilities are Public Safety, Water / Sewer/ Infrastructure/ Parks and Rec (optional) and a minimal Administration to run it. (period) NOT Housing, not feeding homeless (that should be non-profit only, not taxpayer funds), and NOT social welfare.

a-1593772799 Jun 27, 2020 09:48 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

I agree Tahoe. Look what happened at City College when two of their trustees had 'issues' with wording. The ol' racist trope 'all lives matter' is just a time waster right now. That trustee needs to remove himself. And the other nay-sayer who seems to have a history dealing with what could bring positive change, is another one who has to go. And she is a public school teacher. Is this what she is thinking when in her classroom? Sorry. Right now if you are wasting the board's time with semantics, your underlying biases are screaming out.

a-1593772799 Jun 25, 2020 10:58 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

When racism is pointed out, some people perceive that as a personal attack on their own decency. They think that if students are taught that slavery benefitted white peoples to the long term detriment of the enslaved and their descendants, the white children will suffer guilt and misery. We need to learn how to discuss the truth of our past without getting defensive.

a-1593772799 Jun 25, 2020 10:43 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

SBTAHOE - Good point. It's truly sickening and sad to see the comments (and "disagreements") from people here when it comes to just trying to achieve racial equality. They're crying and waving their arms in despair - oh no, the schools will be bad now that they have to teach racial disparity - oh no, what next, the mission will be torn down? - oh no, why is it all of a sudden such an issue? me and my friends never had an issue with racism? blah blah blah dee freakin' blah.....

a-1593772799 Jun 25, 2020 01:04 PM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

Father Serra - the one who turned his back as native Americans were raped and pillaged. These natives were brutalized – beaten, pressed into forced labor and infected with diseases to which they had no resistance. Indians brought into the missions were not allowed to leave, and if they tried they were shackled and severely beaten. They were used as forced labour to build out the Mission’s farming projects. They were fed atrociously, separated from close family members and packed into tight living quarters that often became their death beds. When Native American women were caught trying to abort babies conceived through rape, the mission fathers had them beaten for days on end, clamped them in irons, had their heads shaved and forced them to stand at the church altar every Sunday carrying a painted wooden child in their arms.

a-1593772799 Jun 25, 2020 10:45 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

FERNALD - um, worry about that if it ever happens? Why should we stop working toward racial equality just because you're scared they'll "attack" your precious mission? yeah, great idea - let's stop feeding kids because one day they might be criminals. that's about the same logic. I know you're smarter than that.

a-1593772799 Jun 25, 2020 09:07 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

Why Ridiculous? You would just create a new division within the department? Police should only have to focus on true crime. Parking enforcement is a revenue generator could be done by anyone. Cops end up dealing with mental health issues as a significant part of their work. The text on the web page could be changed.....

a-1593772799 Jun 25, 2020 08:27 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

Please remove any statues or imagery of Father Junipero Serra from any Public property - he is not my ""Father". In the name of converting the "savages" to Christianity. Everywhere they put a mission the majority of Indians are gone, and Serra knew what they were doing: they were taking the land, taking the crops, he knew the soldiers were raping women, and he turned his head. Historians estimate that hundreds of thousands of Native Americans died in the decades after Europeans arrived, mostly killed by diseases.

SantaBarbaraObserver Jun 25, 2020 08:12 AM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

Sad that a city that not only promotes but cherishes the Mission, a building that was built with slave labor and to this day holds the bones of its victims in its walls, is touting anything related to race relations. If these people had any real sense of decency or honor they'd 'defund' the Mission and push forth a resolution to raze the building and replace it with a museum of fact. Facts about the horrors that were perpetrated by the evil Catholic priests and their missionaries. But no. Its Fiesta time! Let's play dress up and ignore the murder, the rapes, the horrors that occurred on those grounds and instead pretend we're all some amalgam of Spanish / Indio that rides horses and drinks Tecate, all while dancing on the souls of enslaved Natives… We either face the facts of our pasts or we ignore them. As long as that building stands and remains a "church" its a farce and a pock on the face of our city and our country. End the lies. Tell the truth about what happened there and maybe, just maybe we can address the issues at hand.

RHS Jun 24, 2020 06:47 PM
Santa Barbara City Council Passes Budget and Declares Racism a Public Health Emergency

Public Works is ill suited to administer social work. But I assume that their job will be as bureaucratic operatives to pay the County for the cost of these positions. That is good. In fact it is better than that as maybe someone will see the Behavioral Wellness actually gets into the community and provides some help.

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