The Riverside City Council last week in a split vote approved a resolution authorizing the display of commemorative flags at city facilities. The vote follows months of discussions by the city.

“There was something I read the other day, ‘Pride is important because someone tonight still believes they’re better off not alive than being themselves,’” Mayor Pro Tem Clarissa Cervantes said at the June 6 meeting. “And I really appreciate the honest testimonies and the stories that people shared here about their own experiences, and thank you for your honesty.”

Back in January, the council formally adopted a flag policy, which included guidelines for commemorative flags. In May, the council, with input from the Human Relations Commission, voted in support of flying flags in observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Black History Month, Women’s Suffrage Victory, LGBTQ Pride Month and Juneteenth.

Public comment made during the meeting was overwhelmingly in favor of the city flying commemorative flags with 10 speakers talking about how the flags would serve as a way to improve diversity and inclusion in the city.

“I rise to celebrate the city’s plans for affinity flags to be flown over significant dates in our collective history,” Kelli Grace Kurtz, senior priest at All Saints Episcopal Church, said. “It shows the strength of a city that is vibrant and vital and diverse. It’s an outward sign of a deep commitment to all the citizens of this beloved community and speaks against hatred, and division.”

The five who spoke against said that flying flags in support of certain groups would only serve as a way for certain members of the council to “virtue signal” and push their own political agendas, a sentiment echoed by Councilman Chuck Conder.

“I just want to say that if you want a perfect example of personal agendas being shoved down your throat, you’re seeing it tonight,” he said. “Let the lawsuits begin, and standby Riverside, help is on its way.”

Ultimately, Councilmember Erin Edwards made the motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Cervantes. The resolution was adopted 5-2 with Conder and Councilmember Jim Perry voting against.

“We talk about our values of being inclusive and diverse,” Councilmember Gaby Plascencia said. “And you know, it’s not about personal agendas, it’s about our community.”

You can view a recording of the June 6 meeting here. 

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.