White supremacists again display banners from the Newbury Park Viaduct
Nearly three weeks after Thousand Oaks Mayor Bob Engler declared white supremacists unwelcome in the city, a small group of them returned Saturday for a second ‘banner’ on the highway 101.
They displayed banners on the side of the Borchard Road viaduct in Newbury Park to oncoming traffic. The banners had wording that the Anti-Defamation League describes as rhetoric associated with white supremacists.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Captain Eduardo Malagon said Sunday the department received multiple calls beginning around 11 a.m. Saturday about the group. But no MPs were sent to the scene because none of the reports were of a criminal nature and there were no security concerns, he said.
love, not hate: Thousand Oaks passes anti-hate resolution following white supremacist protest
The protest echoed a February 12 white supremacist “banner” on the same overpass.
In response to the first protest, the Thousand Oaks City Council on February 22 passed an anti-hate resolution taking “an official position against bigotry, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and hate speech in the city” while recognizing the First Amendment rights of people to speak and assemble peacefully.
“It’s a big concern to me that they chose our city…perhaps thinking that their opinions might be welcome here,” Engler said at the meeting. “These reprehensible opinions are not welcome anywhere, let alone in the city we all love.”
On Monday, Engler said “my comments are valid. They weren’t welcome the last time they came here, and they’re not this time.
“And I think what we as a community really need to think about is what these people bring to the table — a worldview that’s not inclusive — and why we reject it,” Engler continued, speaking from Washington DC where he attends the conference of the National League of Cities.
Why so long?: White supremacists rallied in Thousand Oaks; some wonder why city leaders are slow to respond
David Alpert, 56, and his wife were driving on Route 101 on Saturday when they spotted the streamers on the overpass.
His wife called 911 but was told sheriff’s deputies would not respond, he said Monday.
The couple then parked and he decided to confront the masked protesters while his wife waited in their car, said Alpert, who describes himself as a “fierce leftist” politician.
He walked on the overpass and began taking photos and videos of protesters with his cell phone. He said he counted seven.
“Something had to be done,” he said. “I wasn’t going there to fight them. I wasn’t going there to do anything other than document, ‘what’s going on.’ People need to know what’s going on. I need to know what’s going on.”
He ultimately left without incident, he said.
La Shaun Aaron, co-founder of anti-racism group 805 Resistance, said Monday that Saturday’s protest was “horrifying”.
She criticized the city council for not passing an anti-hate resolution sooner.
“It sends a message,” she said Monday.
But she said it’s not entirely up to elected officials to let it be known that Thousand Oaks won’t tolerate hate.
“I think our faith community could definitely step up and be part of the fight in terms of sending a message of love and inclusion,” she said.
At the February 22 city council meeting, Thousand Oaks Police Chief Jeremy Paris said the February 12 protesters did not appear to be local.
“Everything indicates that … these people came from outside the region,” he said.
On Monday, Paris did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Saturday’s protest.
Caltrans spokesman Jim Medina said Monday the agency does not allow banners on overpasses because they can distract motorists. He said Caltrans was unaware of the protest and, furthermore, is not a law enforcement agency.
Officer Ryan Ayers of the CHP’s Moorpark office said Monday his agency was also unaware of the protest.
He said Caltrans can remove the banners itself unless there is a threat of danger, such as from protesters. If so, the CHP would show up to provide a police presence while Caltrans took down the banners, Ayers said.
Mike Harris covers the county towns of Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as countywide transportation. You can contact him at [email protected] or 805-437-0323.
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