Seaside Mayor Jay Barber closed out last Monday’s City Council meeting with reflections and an emotional appeal.
As protests and demonstrations over the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd roil the nation, Barber acknowledged the pain, trauma and frustration that resulted from this incident that has been felt by the black community and others communities of color.
“A question that continues to circulate in my mind and my heart is where was the justice and due process for Mr. Floyd and the scores of black and brown citizens who have died at the hands of the very people who have sworn and protect us all,” Barber said in a voice that often cracked with tearful emotion. “Saying all that, I also want to see justice and accountability and due process for the police officers who were involved in the incident.”
The comments came at the conclusion of the city’s first in-person meeting at City Hall following the reopening of the building. City Hall had been closed since March to the coronavirus pandemic.
Barber described himself as grieving and heartsick about the incidents in Minneapolis and other parts of the nation.
“Part of my response is the sense of helplessness I feel in being able to prevent this kind of one-sided justice that is being all too often meted out on my black brothers and sisters,” he said. “All I know to do at this point is to speak out against it. Staying silent is in many ways giving assent to these travesties.”
Barber, whose son has served in law enforcement for the past 30 years, said he also grieved for the “for the scores of honorable law enforcement officers and first responders who are being painted with a broad brush of negative stereotype.”
Calling for “more than talk as we have in the past,” the mayor challenged council members to join him in helping to root out cultural prejudices.
He asked the community for introspection regarding issues of diversities in Seaside, especially in hiring, boards and commissions.
“We also need to stand against any attitude of supremacy that pits one group of people against another in our community,” Barber said.