A group of Turlock residents implored the Turlock City Council Tuesday night to take a stand against what one woman called an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation” being created by white supremacy propaganda that has popped up around town.
Nine Turlockers addressed the City Council on Tuesday, expressing their concerns over the recent papering of street signs and utility poles with stickers promoting white supremacy. The citizens also asked the Council to adopt a resolution, like the one approved by Congress on Tuesday, condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.
Turlock resident Danielle Reyes told the Council how she found a sticker that read “Equality is a False God” on the stop sign in front of her children’s preschool.
“I think for any citizen this would be rather alerting, especially for a half African woman who is married to a white man in Turlock, in a conservative community, with multi-ethnic children,” said Reyes.
Reyes said that she, her husband and a group of volunteers “worked together tirelessly for hours to take the hundreds of stickers down that were plastered all over northeast Turlock.”
“I’m here today… to ask for your support to pass this resolution to say to each of the people of Turlock, to say to these white supremacists: we will not take this; not in our town, not in our city, not in Turlock,” said Reyes.
Turlock Fire Marshall and Director of Neighborhood Services Mark Gomez said the City has taken down at least 100 of the white supremacy stickers on public property.
Denise Hunt told the Council how she loves living in Turlock and hopes the community will come together to stop hate speech.
“I love how Turlock feels safe to me. I enjoy the diversity, living here in the Central Valley and in Turlock as well…one of the biggest problems for me with this activity that has been occurring in our community is that it creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. And I will not stand for that, that’s not okay. It’s not what Turlock should be about. And when we see that happening, I would hope that our city and our community will rise up against that and say, no that’s not going to happen here,” said Hunt.
Other residents also talked about how they felt the racial atmosphere in Turlock has changed recently.
“As a student at Stanislaus in the 70s, in the 80s, it was more of a comfortable feeling than it is in 2017…I’ve been in Turlock for 40 years. Living in this Valley my entire life, I can tell you that the concerns are real and as has been stated earlier, something needs to be done and I would hope something more than a conversation,” said Ivan Clay.
Turlocker Francisco Reyes said that he was concerned that the rise in white supremacy propaganda would lead to an escalation in violence, especially with the area’s Hispanic street gangs.
“You don’t want those two extreme groups to collide,” said Reyes.
“If we let this thing go…we hope we don’t for everybody’s sake…this is my fear because I know this group, I know this group. Right now, Sureños and Norteños are killing each other for a color. Man, don’t let them start killing for the color of the skin…it will be tragic in either way,” he continued.
After the Council heard all speakers, Vice Mayor Bill DeHart assured those in attendance that the Council didn’t take their words lightly and would address their concerns at a future meeting. Due to open meeting laws, the City Council is unable to take action on items not listed on the agenda and posted at least 24 hours before the public meeting.
“I agree Turlock is better than this. I look forward to sitting down with them, with you and looking at the resolution and seeing what we can bring back to make a statement about how Turlock does stand against bigotry and discrimination and everything they’ve been talking about,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth, who attended the meeting via teleconference from Washington, D.C.