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Advancing Equity and Inclusion in Santa Monica

The City of Santa Monica’s values of accountability, equity, inclusion, innovation, resilience, safety, and stewardship guide everything we do.  As millions of people around the world have joined the Black Lives Matter movement to call for an end to systemic racism and violence against Black people in the United States, we stand in solidarity and are committed to advancing vital work to live out our values of equity and inclusion.  Since 2017, the City of Santa Monica has been a member of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network of government entities working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Our GARE team has focused on a wide range of equity issues over the last three years, including implicit bias, language justice, and housing policy.  Our work today builds on and furthers that critical work over the last three years. 

In June 2020, the Santa Monica City Council advanced three tracks of efforts to generate meaningful and lasting change in Santa Monica:  

  1. Development of a Black Agenda for Santa Monica  
  2. Public Safety Reform 
  3. Equity and Inclusion Work in the City Organization 

Read on to learn more below about these projects now underway. We hope you’ll stay engaged and participate through upcoming opportunities.

Projects

A Black Agenda for Santa Monica 

The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Black and LatinX communities across the country. A centuries-long history of institutional racism, loss of Black lives, and disparities in access, opportunities, and resources has led to days of reckoning. The City of Santa Monica is not immune. It has an opportunity to address its own challenges and self-correct. Santa Monica’s Black community leaders have come together to  create a Black Agenda to assist the City in owning its history and recognizing and addressing existing barriers by adopting an informed, proactive platform of forthright, sustained, and credible actions. 

On June 9, 2020, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved agenda item 13B: “Request of Councilmembers Himmelrich, Jara, and Morena that staff support community leaders creating a Black Agenda to address systemic racism in Santa Monica and that staff take action to eradicate racism within the City government and to implement the Black Agenda.” 

The Black Agenda will evolve from outreach, engagement and assessment within the Black community to provide a robust plan for empowerment, inclusion and equity. The goal is a plan that will be a comprehensive blueprint for authentic change across a wide-range of areas; economic, health-mental health-wellbeing, police reform, education, COVID-19 recovery, the arts, housing, and civic and political participation. 

If you are interested in contributing to the Black Agenda, contact the Black Agenda Steering Committee, led by Dr. Karen Gunn, Robbie Jones and Barry Snell, at SantamonicaBlackAgenda@gmail.com. You can also contact the City’s liaison to the Black Agenda group, Delana G. Gbenekama, at Delana.gbenekama@smgov.net    

Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee 

The City of Santa Monica has long been committed to fair, safe, and effective community policing.  In recent weeks, millions of Americans have marched in the streets to condemn the killings by police officers of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and far too many others and to demand action to end systemic racism within law enforcement in our country.  In response to the demands for reform, the City of Santa Monica is committed to reviewing its City policies to ensure that public safety in Santa Monica employs best practices that recognize the humanity and dignity of every person.   

At its meeting on June 9, 2020, the City Council unanimously voted to sign onto the Obama Pledge to engage the public in review and reform of police use of force policies.  “The Obama Pledge commits us to a clear process for real change,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.  “The four points of review, engage, report, and reform create a blueprint for our community to come together, making sure all voices are heard and all facts are considered, as we implement deep and long-lasting change to eliminate institutional racism.  This is a task we cannot delay.  Our work will be swift, it will be inclusive, and it will reflect Santa Monica’s long history of caring about all members of our community.” 

As the City engages in review of its policies, the Interim City Manager has appointed 15 individuals to a Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee to advise on proposals for reform.  The City will also facilitate multiple opportunities for broader community input on these important topics. 

About the Committee Members 

The Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee is made up  of individuals who are residents of or have a close working knowledge of Santa Monica. They are individuals who are committed to ensuring that the City follows best practices for creating a community in which all feel and are safe. Together, they brings relevant knowledge and expertise as residents, advocates for racial justice, business owners, law enforcement officers with a commitment to public safety reform, mental health providers, and social services providers.

Working together with City staff, the committee will first facilitate a community input process, including a community listening session on July 22,nd and review local, regional, and national proposals advocating for changes to policing and the ways that cities conceive of and allocate funds to achieve public safety. Following this information gathering process, the committee will make recommendations to the Interim City Manager regarding (1) reforms to Santa Monica Police Department use of force policies to ensure best practices for policies, training, and application of force are in place and followed, and (2) changes that should be made to the City’s budget, informed by calls for divest and invest strategies, to better achieve public safety and wellbeing for all in our community.

Committee members:

Angela Scott 
Committee for Racial Justice 

Darrell Goode
President, NAACP Santa Monica / Venice Branch 

Darnell Crumpler 
Santa Monica Police Department 

Erika Aklufi 
Santa Monica Police Department 

George Brown 
Co-Author, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ New Era of Public Safety Report 

Liz Cruz  
Licensed Clinical Social Worker 

Marc Morgenstern 
Former Library Board Member
Ocean Park Association President 

Michael Shotton
Resident  

Nathaniel Trives 
Former Mayor 

Ralinda Harvey Smith
Resident  

Rasika Flores 
Case Manager, Youth Resource Center, St. Joseph’s 

Rebecca Lantry 
Vice President, NAACP Santa Monica / Venice Branch  

Robbie Jones 
Coalition for Police Reform 
Committee for Racial Justice 

Shuli Lotan
Mental Health Counseling Coordinator, SMMUSD 

Wally Marks 
Past Chair, Santa Monica Bayside District Corporation 

If you have questions or comments, please contact PublicSafetyReform@smgov.net 

Belmar Art + History 

Santa Monica Cultural Affairs has embarked on a collaborative project to commemorate the history of the African- American residents and business owners of the Belmar neighborhood, which was formerly situated in and around what is now the Civic Center campus. Artist April Banks and historian Alison Rose Jefferson convened community members in a series of workshops to explore Belmar’s history and what it means for Santa Monica moving forward. In June 2020, the Santa Monica Arts Commission  approved “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas” an artwork to be installed as part of the Civic Center Multipurpose Sports Field commemorating the rich legacy and erased history of Belmar. 

Learn more at www.santamonica.gov/arts/belmar 

Get Involved

We are creating opportunities for involvement. Check back here regularly for workshops, forums, and other opportunities to get involved.  

If you have ideas for Santa Monica’s Black Agenda, contact the Black Agenda Steering Committee, led by Dr. Karen Gunn, Robbie Jones and Barry Snell, at SantamonicaBlackAgenda@gmail.com. You can also contact the City’s liaison to the Black Agenda group, Delana G. Gbenekama, at Delana.gbenekama@smgov.net.    

If you have ideas for public safety reform, please contact PublicSafetyReform@smgov.net.  

You can also stay involved in this work and other projects advancing equity citywide by signing  up for our community newsletter at www.santamonica.gov/newsletter    

Give

Consider donating to the We Are Santa Monica Fund. You can earmark your donation to the Black Agenda and future racial equity projects. At least 10% of any unrestricted donations thise fund will contribute to the development and implementation of the Black Agenda in Santa Monica. 

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