Elk Grove City Council Reluctant to Directly Criticize President's Charlottesville Comments

August 24, 2017 |   The controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's series of comments following the Charlottesville, Va...

August 24, 2017 |  

The controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's series of comments following the Charlottesville, Va. protest deaths made their way into last night's Elk Grove City Council meeting. The President's statements have been widely criticized from several quarters as legitimizing Neo Nazi and white supremacist groups and their behavior.

During public comment, several people condemned the groups and the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed by a vehicle allegedly driven by a Nazi sympathizer who is alleged to have intentionally crashed into a group of protesters. Among those speaking was the executive director of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, Fabrizio Sasso.

While Sasso echoed the sentiments of other speakers who expressed sorrow for the deaths of Hyer and two Virginia State Troopers who perished in a helicopter crash, he called the incident a case of domestic terrorism. Additionally, he noted Assemblymember Jim Cooper, Senator Richard Pan, and Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly all condemned Trump during a downtown Sacramento rally held on Sunday, August 13.

"Any response that we have incidents like this must begin with our leaders, and you are our elected leaders," he said. "Acknowledging this for what it is, domestic terrorism, rooted in bigotry."

Reminding the council that Trump said there many sides to the violence and some of the Nazi's were "fine" people, Sasso said this is not the type of language that unites people, and that it fuels hatred.

"I am asking that you publicly acknowledge that Trump is wrong in this," he said. "We hope you can make a statement directly about how our President's language does not coincide with the values of the people of Elk Grove."

Following the comments of Sasso and others, the City Council uniformly agreed with the comments condemning hate groups and lauded Elk Grove's diversity. However, they stopped short of admonishing Trump by name.

In his remarks, Vice Mayor Steve Detrick noted this weekend's Multi-Cultural Festival was a symbol of the city's diversity but said he would not attack other elected officials. 

"We can sit here puff up our chest up and attack other people, I don't want to be up here to attack other people," Detrick said. "I want to take a stand for what is right and represent Elk Grove and the message 'we are not going to tolerate those things in Elk Grove.' But to go after other elected officials and things like that I don't think is entirely appropriate."

During his comments, Council Member Darren Suen said President Trump displayed a lack of leadership in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville. Suen did say he agreed with Detrick's assessment and that Elk Grove should mind its own business.

"As far as the President is concerned, I believe a leader should unite its people, I think those actions he chose in that instance, on that day, following the incident, was a lack of leadership, so I disappointed he chose those words, and I would condemn him on that basis," Suen said. "But, I think I will agree with the Vice Mayor here that we need to mind our own business and focus on the 170,000 plus residents of the city."

Council Member Pat Hume opened his comments by saying the President should have his Twitter account taken away from him. However seemed to indicate the people protesting against the Neo Nazi's and white supremacist were protesting against the hate groups with hate. 

"Part of the reason the situation escalated to the level that it did was because they tried to match hate with hate," Hume said. "Those people with abhorrent ideology had marched in that town for three weekends prior and without incident, and it wasn't until they were confronted rather than dismissed or mocked that things escalated to that level."  

Hume also addressed one comment about a recent incident at Elk Grove High School where a student had a backpack with a confederate flag on it that was the sources of several complaints. Stating he does not like to interfere with other governmental agencies, Hume implied the banning of a confederate flag as a hate symbol by a school district could lead to the banning of the American flag at schools.

"I will say that is a slippery slope because I have heard of incidents where school districts have considered this flag behind me to be hate speech, and I won't ever accept that," he extorted as he pointed to the American flag located behind him on the dais. 

Following-up on Hume's comments regarding the confederate flag, Council Member Stephanie Nguyen said that this was the first she heard of the Elk Grove High School incident and that she would like to be involved in the education of children of the implications of such symbols. 

"Unfortunately, they [school children] may not know what that flag means or are educated enough on what happened that day, and how that can shape our community and our city here," she said. 


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