By Robert Haugh
Yesterday morning, the City Council had a special meeting to ratify the 48-hour curfew that was implemented earlier this week.
But the big story was George Floyd, the man who tragically died on May 25 in Minneapolis when a police officer knelt on his neck.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and City Attorney Brian Doyle made some stirring remarks.
You can watch Gillmor’s statement. It’s less than five minutes.
She’s followed by Doyle’s statement. It’s less than three minutes.
We got copies of both statements and have reprinted them with permission below.
And here’s a photo of the moment of silence when city leaders knelt together. The meeting was adjourned in Floyd’s honor.
Statement of Mayor Lisa Gillmor, June 4, 2020
This morning, I’m presiding over a special meeting of the City Council. Our task today is a simple one — to adopt a resolution ratifying our curfew. But this morning in Santa Clara and in America a lot of things don’t seem simple. And a lot of things just don’t seem right. I hear that from our residents. I hear that from my kids. And I feel it in my heart.
For months, we’ve battled the most serious public health crisis in a century. We’ve been forced to change our lives and habits. And in Santa Clara, we’ve risen to the challenge. I’m proud of our City.
We’ve demonstrated that to protect ourselves and our families, we’ve had to act as a community. We’ve had to care about our neighbors as much as we care about ourselves. That’s why we wear masks in public. That’s why we maintain social distance. That’s why we deliver food to seniors who can’t shop and to school kids who would go hungry without our help.
Now, we face another challenge.
Ten days ago in Minneapolis, George Floyd died tragically — terribly — under the knee of a police officer. The world saw George Floyd plead for help. The world saw George Floyd beg to breathe. The world saw George Floyd die. And the world, our world, will never be the same.
If we could go back in time and change nine minutes, we would. Then, George Floyd would return to life and his family and his community. But we can’t. We can only move forward. And as we move forward, we can dedicate ourselves to make the world a better place. We can, in fact we must dedicate ourselves to change our communities and our nation. We don’t want to see anyone treated like George Floyd in Santa Clara or anywhere in the world.
As a mayor and as a mother, I’m really concerned that we’re at a major tipping point for our future. But I’m also optimistic. I see what we’ve done as a community in Santa Clara to respond to the pandemic. Every day, I see genuine concern for our neighbors and the most vulnerable among us. I see Santa Clarans pulling together. We know that black lives matter. We know that as President Barack Obama said yesterday: “your lives matter. Your dreams matter.” We know that we have to take care of each other if we want to take care of ourselves.
That’s even more true and more challenging in a multicultural and multi-racial city like Santa Clara. Our neighbors are of different races and religions and sexual orientations. We may look different. We may speak different languages. But we’re all Santa Clarans. And we’re all pulling together for each other. That’s what’s required if we want to make our world a better, more peaceful place and to honor the memory of George Floyd to whom we are dedicating today’s meeting.
Statement of City Attorney Brian Doyle, June 4, 2020
As the City Attorney of the city where Colin Kaepernick first took a knee and as the father of two biracial African American children who live and go to school in Santa Clara, I feel that I must say something at this moment in history. What struck me most about George Floyd’s killing was not only the act itself but the blatant open manner in which it was conducted. With cameras rolling in front of dozens of witnesses those officers took the life an unarmed man being taken into custody for allegedly passing a fake twenty.
Growing up as the brother of a man who struggled with mental illness all his life, I saw compassionate police officers take a severely distressed young white man into custody under very difficult circumstances. So I know it can be done safely by officers who take the care to do it properly.
Just last year, my sister and her African American husband were driving through Arkansas when they were followed for miles and inevitably pulled over by a white highway patrolman. Without even being told the reason for the stop, my brother in law was ordered to exit his car and get into the back of the patrol car. As he got out, the patrolman commented: “you’re a big one aren’t you.” He refused to get into the patrol car.
Eventually they got out of the situation without a ticket or physical abuse. They left the state and drove all the way back to New York without stopping, vowing never to go to Arkansas again. My brother in law was terrified of that encounter, as are almost all black men who are targeted by police.
Santa Clara is not Arkansas. In fact, having lived here in an interracial family, I think the diverse Bay Area is one of the best places to live in peace with our neighbors of all races. But neither has Santa Clara become a racial utopia. I have observed instances of what I at least perceived to be biased actions, even by some of our police officers. When I spoke to the previous police chief [Mike Sellers] last year about one of them he promised to get back to me. I’m still waiting. I call upon all of us to engage honestly with the community and with each other to further break down the attitudes that separate us, so that we can see each other as brothers and sisters and treat each other with the respect that deserves.