City Council Takes Bold Steps to Advance Racial Justice in Santa Monica

September 9, 2020 9:55 AM

At its meeting last night, the Santa Monica City Council advanced City support for creation of the Santa Monica Black Lives Association, a nonprofit designed by Black community leaders to support Black Santa Monicans, approved Equity and Inclusion Officers for every City department, and advanced broad steps toward police reform, including the creation of a Police Commission—the first of its kind in Santa Monica. These actions follow three months of extensive community and staff engagement, and mark the initial steps in a community-wide effort to embrace calls for racial equity and to better live out our Council-adopted values of equity and inclusion for the long term.

“The City Council took bold action last night following extensive community engagement centered around amplifying the voices of People of Color in our community and putting in place long-term reforms for a more just and equitable future,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “This is the foundation from which we demonstrate that all Black Lives Matter with an open invitation to every member of the Santa Monica community to stay engaged or become a part of this effort.”

Action steps for community engagement and a community-based nonprofit were put forward by the community-led Black Agenda for Santa Monica Steering Committee, which surveyed Santa Monica’s Black community to develop their proposal.  Equity work inside the City organization followed a series of social justice workshops and the ongoing work of the City’s staff representatives of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). A 15-member Public Safety Reform Advisory Committee (PSRAC), selected through an application process with recommendations made to the Interim City Manager, convened a community listening session on July 30 and met weekly to develop their recommendations, detailed in this report.

“We hope this is the beginning of changes in our community that will be the basis for systemic change in our society,” said Barry Snell, a member of the Black Agenda for Santa Monica Steering Committee who presented to Council last night. “The nonprofit is in progress and we hope to have the entire community represented. That’s how we’ll create the change we need.”

Council provided the following direction to staff last night for each track of the ongoing racial justice work:

Advancing a Black Agenda for Santa Monica 

Equity and Inclusion Work within the City Organization 

Public Safety Reform 

Council took an additional action to affirmatively add to the record that they do not wish to move forward with exploring a police substation at Virginia Avenue Park as included in the PSRAC recommendations.

For updates, visit santamonica.gov/equity and to find out about ways to get involved, sign up for the City’s community newsletter at santamonica.gov/newsletter. Donations can be made to advance racial justice work in Santa Monica, including the new nonprofit through the We Are Santa Monica Fund.

Adopted Racial Equity Statement 

The City of Santa Monica acknowledges the effects of generational and institutional racism, and its consequences that continue to impact our residents. These lessons of our history cannot be ignored. The City is committed to advancing racial equity and social diversity to improve the wellbeing of people who live, work, play, and do business in our City, by:

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