Two weeks ago, our local community was shaken by an act of hate – the theft and burning of pride flags from a house of worship and a local residence.
These hurtful acts have many victims – not only those directly affected, but also the entire LGBTQ+ community and our entire Santa Ynez Valley community. Together we join not only to condemn all acts of hate, but to say that our Santa Barbara County communities are welcoming and inclusive. It takes everyone to be who we are in the Santa Ynez Valley and in Santa Barbara County.
While any crime or vandalism damages the fabric of our community, expressions of hate threaten to tear it apart in fear. Flag burning and intimidating, hateful acts and language have no place in the Santa Ynez Valley or anywhere. Not here, not now, not ever. We condemn all anti-LGBTQ+ acts, all forms of bigotry, bullying and hate.
It is distressing that such an act would occur in our close-knit Santa Ynez Valley community, and particularly at a house of worship which promotes love, acceptance, service of the whole community, and espouses the values of loving our neighbors as ourselves and respecting the dignity of every human being.
While incredibly hurtful and damaging, this incident is an opportunity for learning and growth. Local school administrators and teachers, parents, and community leaders need to continue to build awareness of the oppression of and violence against the LGBTQ+ community worldwide and ensure that acts like this never happen here again.
Let us all learn that these acts have many victims and damage entire communities. Let us all learn to respect and love our neighbors regardless of difference in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, creed or economic status.
Let us use this opportunity to affirm that our Santa Ynez Valley and all Santa Barbara County communities are safe and inclusive, where all people are acknowledged as part of our social fabric, and threatening, intimidating actions like this are never acceptable.
We have come together today to say our community is moving to the future in confidence that all of our neighbors are safe, valued, and equal participants in a better world which begins now.
Joan Hartmann, 3rd District Supervisor, County of Santa Barbara
Source: Santa Maria Times
Community leaders in concurrence:
Mayor Holly Sierra, Mayor of Buellton
Mayor Charlie Uhrig, Mayor of Solvang
Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Kevin Walthers, President, Allan Hancock College
Andrew Schwab, Superintendent, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District
Michael Niehoff, Principal, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School
Kalyan Ali Balaven, Head of School, Dunn School, Los Olivos
Rabbi Deborah Lewis, Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community
Susie Margolis Pierson, President, Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community
The Rev. Chris Brown, Bethania Lutheran Church
The Rev. Randall Day, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church
Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People
Valerie Kissell, CEO
Adriana Reyes, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator, SYV Inclusion
Selene Sandoval, Director of Youth Programs & SYV Youth Coalition Director
The Santa Barbara Foundation
Jackie Carrera, President and CEO
The Fund for Santa Barbara
Marcos Vargas, Executive Director
Patricia Solorio, Associate Director
Pacific Pride Foundation
Kristin Flickinger, Executive Director
Santa Ynez Valley Pride Board of Directors
Matthew and Kiel Cavalli, Co-founders
Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara / Tri-Counties
Daniel Meisel, Regional Director
Ashley Myers, Assistant Regional Director