The Morgan Hill City Council unanimously approved a resolution “condemning all forms of hate and violence” at the March 17 meeting, in response to the deadly riots that occurred at the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.
The resolution not only repudiates the Jan. 6 attack on “an important symbol of our democracy” in Washington, D.C.; it also condemns local incidents, including the tagging of Congregation Emeth and Paradise Park in Morgan Hill with anti-Semitic graffiti earlier this year.
The resolution also calls out incidents in January of anti-police graffiti throughout Morgan Hill.
Local residents, including members of the AAUW Morgan Hill chapter, asked the council to consider adopting such a resolution shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Morgan Hill City Councilmember Yvonne Martinez Beltran said she has supported the suggested resolution as a way to assure the public that the city supports democracy and equality.
“This is to protect our community,” Martinez Beltran said.
But the initial draft of the resolution was met with some resistance, as Councilmember Gino Borgioli insisted on the removal of a statement that declared, “five people were killed as a result of the attack, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.”
Borgioli noted that Sicknick’s cause of death is still under investigation, and thus that portion of the resolution was not factually accurate. Borgioli also suggested the anti-hate resolution should state that the city council is opposed to “any destruction of property.”
“The destruction of property is a key factor in this whole thing,” Borgioli said. “The destruction of property (of) Congregation Emeth, with the graffiti—well, how about the breaking of windows or anything like that. We should put that in there.”
On Jan. 16, Congregation Emeth, located on Monterey Road just north of downtown Morgan Hill, reported to police that someone had painted two swastikas on a door of the building. The swastika is an ancient symbol that in modern times is used as a symbol of hate and anti-Semitism, according to the Anti Defamation League.
Other council members ultimately agreed to remove the statement about the Capitol riot deaths from the resolution, in order to gain a unanimous vote with Borgioli’s support.
At the March 17 meeting, the council and members of the public also discussed the importance of being able to speak against hate and violence without descending into partisan divisiveness.
“I swore an oath. I fight for everyone’s right to stand up and speak, no matter what their political stripe,” Mayor Rich Constantine said. “This (resolution) is condemning all forms of hate—that’s what is in this resolution. I don’t see why that is controversial.”
Mayor Pro Tem John McKay added, “All I know is what I care about is this community, and I don’t want us to fall into any kind of divisiveness for doing what is right—and that is, protecting every single person in this community.”
The March 17 resolution dovetails on previous declarations by the Morgan Hill City Council, which has made “diversity and inclusiveness” one of its ongoing priorities since 2016, City Manager Christina Turner noted. In 2017, the council adopted a resolution “reaffirming the city’s commitment to a diverse, supportive, inclusive community and protecting the constitutional rights of its residents.”
The March 17 resolution includes the following declarations by the council:
“1. The City of Morgan Hill does not tolerate discrimination, hate crimes, harassment, or assault;
“2. Any form of hate or violence on any individual or place is condemned;
“3. The January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol Building is condemned;
“4. The City Council offers its deepest condolences to the family of Officer Brian Sicknick and honors Officer Sicknick for his dedication and service to our country;
“5. Our democracy is resilient to such acts of violence;
“6. The City Council is committed to protecting our democracy.”