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Supervisor Fletcher Wants Human Relations to be a Priority Again in San Diego County

05/17/20

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher wants to bring the community together to make human relations a priority again in San in San Diego County. At the Tues. May 19 Board of Supervisors meeting, he is proposing a resolution to create the Leon L. Williams San Diego County Human Relations Commission. The Commission will consist of 25 voting members representing a broad cross section of the community, and their objective will be to foster an inclusive culture and more equitable San Diego County. 

“In the last several years, divisive rhetoric, hate speech and outward acts of violence have been on the rise across the United States, and while no community is ever immune to it, it has come out from the shadows and into the light in San Diego County,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “With the new Leon L. Williams Human Relations Commission, it’s my goal to bring the community together. We want to cultivate an environment that encourages greater understanding and respect for one another, and we want to have a group that can work collaboratively to fight back against racism, xenophobia, and social injustice.” 

Hate crimes based on bias and prejudice in the United States reached a 16 year high in 2018, according to a report released last year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The report also said hate crimes were up against Latinos, nearly 17 percent were targeted because of sexual orientation and that nearly 60 percent of reported crimes motivated by religion were against Jews. And nearly 47 percent of hate crimes involving race were “motivated by anti-black or African American bias”.  The number of hate groups operating across the country rose to a record high of 1,020 in 2018, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

In 2019 San Diegans experienced the horrific rise in antisemitism with the mass shooting at the Chabad of Poway. This month there were two separate incidents in Santee of people in grocery stores using their COVID-19 face coverings to display symbols of racism and hate. And recently derogatory graffiti targeting Asians Americans was found at a little league field in the Allied Gardens neighborhood of San Diego.

Supervisor Fletcher began meeting with community leaders last year about forming a Commission after he learned the County no longer had the one founded by Supervisor Leon Williams, the only African American to have served on the Board of Supervisors. The policy for the Commission was originally scheduled to be introduced in February. When the Coronavirus started to spread in San Diego, bringing the policy forward was postponed, but when acts of hate began to emerge in the last couple of weeks, Supervisor Fletcher moved quickly to introduce the proposal on May 19.

Supervisor Fletcher met earlier this year with Supervisor Williams at his San Diego home to share his plan to reestablish the Commission, click here to see excerpts from that meeting. In the run-up to introducing this policy, groups Supervisor Fletcher met with included: Alliance San Diego, San Diego LGBT Pride, The San Diego Chapter of the Black Political Association of California (BAPAC), Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Trans Family Support Services, Japanese American Citizens League, Somali Family Service of San Diego and the Pauma Band of Mission Indians.

With Board of Supervisor approval, the Commission will consist of 25 members, each board office will be able to appoint two representatives. In addition to those 10 Board nominated seats, there will also be the following commissioners:

  1. District Attorney, or designee;
  2. Sheriff, or designee;
  3. Jewish Family Service designee;
  4. The San Diego LGBT Community Center designee;
  5. International Rescue Commission designee;
  6. San Diego Rapid Response Network designee;
  7. Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association designee; and 
  8. The San Diego Chapter of the Black Political Association of California (BAPAC)

Once members of the Commission are seated, they will nominate the final seven seats.