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Del Mar Black Lives Matter
A group walks on July Fourth in Del Mar carrying "Black Lives Matter" signs and honoring the death of Adolphus Demetrius "Demo" Dubose. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
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Del Mar council split over Black Lives Matter resolution

DEL MAR — The Del Mar City Council narrowly adopted a resolution commending “racial equity and justice and Black Lives Matter [BLM]” at their Nov. 9 meeting, eliciting mixed responses from councilmembers and residents.

Del Mar residents Nicole Forrest, Valerie Dufort-Roy and Sudeepto Roy spearheaded the resolution “in response to the national outrage” following the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Roy told The Coast News.

“The resolution describes broad, aspirational policy goals,” according to an accompanying memo by Mayor Ellie Haviland and Councilman Dwight Worden, though it doesn’t enact any specific policies or commit public resources.

The statement focuses especially on law enforcement, committing the city to “work with the sheriff to review policing policies.” Del Mar contracts with the county sheriff for law enforcement services, rather than maintain a municipal police department.

Graphic by Dan Brendel

The resolution seeks to “strengthen police/community partnerships”; assert local “autonomy” against “intervention by federal law enforcement officers”; and support “legislation banning face recognition technologies,” which opponents say operate on race-biased algorithms.

The sheriff’s department countywide used lethal force once in 2019, according to its most recent use-of-force statistical report. Law enforcement officers didn’t kill anyone in 2019 in North County, including Del Mar, according to WeTheProtesters, a nonprofit watchdog.

The resolution takes aim more broadly at “structural” or “systemic” racism, which the memo defines as “historic patterns … which have excluded people of color and religious minorities and/or put barriers in the way of their progress.”

The city would, among other things, seek “to remove racist language from deeds.”

For example, a 1938 protective covenant still on record for Dufort-Roy’s home, though long since stripped of legal effect, prohibits sale “to any person not of the white or Caucasian race.”

In 2017, Del Mar’s residents remained 96% white, compared to 83% in Solana Beach, 73% in Oceanside and 65% in San Diego City, according to the draft updated housing chapter of its General Plan. About 3% of Del Mar residents were Asian and less than 1% Black.

Several residents expressed support for the resolution.

“It is truly amazing that, after a Civil War to free slaves, the ‘freedmen’ of that war are still suffering … at the hands of privileged white persons,” Carol Mason and Charlie Khoury said.

Susan Magee called “acknowledging the pervasive systemic racism” a “positive step.”

But numerous others took issue with what they interpreted as an unfairly sweeping indictment.

The resolution condemns “forced displacement” of non-whites, which “made way for the current residents in our local communities.” It asserts “the demographics and privileges of the City of Del Mar are testaments to the failures of our principles.”

“Any ‘privilege’ of living in Del Mar is a testament to my hard work over 40+ years, not a ‘failure of our principles,’” Betty McDonald said.

Charles Pinney, Betsy Milich and Tom and Nicole O’Neil called the resolution’s language “inflammatory.”

“I will vote to rescind it at the nearest opportunity,” Councilman-elect Dan Quirk said.

The resolution passed 3 to 2 along familiar fault lines, with Councilmembers Dave Druker and Terry Gaasterland voting no. Both expressed explicit support for the resolution’s essential thrust but said they wanted more time to consider revisions.

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