On October 23, San Bernardino City Hall‘s steps supported a heartfelt press conference. There, City Councilmembers and Mayor Helen Tran publicly denounced the racist comments from an October 18 city council meeting. However, the absence of four key council members deepened the community’s wounds.
Councilman Ben Reynoso articulated the city’s racial challenges, stating, “It’s our fault that it happened, and we take the blame. San Bernardino is no stranger to racism. I’m black and Mexican. What do you think it was like growing up here? I watched race riots in my school. Hearing Amy assaulted like that, that’s not the story it has to be. Let our response reflect through our policies. Let us represent all people. And until that happens, I won’t be satisfied.”
Reflecting a similar sentiment, Councilmember Kimberly Calvin said, “Last Wednesday, I was stunned. But when you’re working to make a better San Bernardino, embracing everyone, it becomes heavy to bear a statement like that. This didn’t just happen to black people; it happened to everyone in the room. We have to accept responsibility.”
Mayor Helen Tran emphasized unity, emotionally stating, “Last Wednesday does not define us as a city. Tonight, we stand together as a united community. The city sincerely apologizes for the offensive and unacceptable incident.”
The glaring absence of Mayor Pro Tem Fred Shorett, and Councilmembers Theodore Sanchez, Sandra Ibarra, and Juan Figueroa from the conference was palpable. Although Ibarra and Shorett provided Mayor Tran with a letter to read outloud, Sanchez and Figueroa did nothing, eliciting concerns about the council’s united front.
During the controversial October 18 City Council Meeting, as San Bernardino Constituent Amy Malone was addressing concerns about the new city manager, Charles Montoya, racist slurs from unidentified men interrupted her over Zoom.
“Obviously, when you look at his [Charles Montoya’s] track record, you would not hire him for your own personal business,” expressed Malone.
The situation quickly took a turn when Malone was interrupted by what seemed to be at least two men hurling racist insults over a Zoom microphone.
“Somebody shut this ***** up… Go home, you… b***. Go back to Africa if you don’t like it,” the voices could be heard saying.
The incident has reignited debates on racial tension in the city. As SBPD investigations continue, the silence of several council members raises questions about the city leadership’s commitment to countering racism.