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Santa Monica, Calif. City Council Passes Initiatives to Defend Against Trump Administration Policy

Friday, February 17, 2017 15:20
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  Santa Monica, Calif. (Kent Kanouse / CC 2.0)

Santa Monica, Calif. has joined a growing list of cities with local policy at odds with President Trump’s positions.

First, on Wednesday, the Santa Monica City Council voted to sever ties with Wells Fargo because it helps to fund the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Santa Monica Lookout reports:

Council members heard from nearly three-dozen speakers, including several who sang and played drums in an “honor song,” during the session that did not begin until the final minutes of Tuesday night due to the meeting’s lengthy agenda.

Many of the speakers had been to the much-publicized protests in North Dakota, where they objected to the project because they say it stretches onto sacred native land and creates water and other environmental safety issues.

“Santa Monica is taking a stand against Wells Fargo because they have repeatedly used deceptive business practices,” Councilmember Tony Vazquez said.

He continued, “Their investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline is the latest egregious action. It’s our hope that other cities will divest their funds so together we can have a collective and powerful impact.”

According to local news site Santa Monica Next, the council voted 5-0 to support the divestment measure, although two councilmembers were not present for the vote.

Santa Monica joined cities like Seattle, Wash. and Davis, Calif., which have also voted to divest from Wells Fargo due to its ties to the North Dakota oil pipeline.

The city is taking action in the face of a Trump administration by passing local measures on a wide range of progressive issues. For instance, just one day after the divestment vote, the Santa Monica City Council approved the start of draft legislation to protect residents from giving sensitive information to employers and landlords.

The Santa Monica Lookout explains:

After hearing from numerous public speakers who said they lived in fear under the Donald Trump presidency, the Santa Monica City Council passed a measure calling for staff to draft an ordinance that would prohibit employers and landlords, among others, from collecting information on people’s immigration status, religion and sexual identity. …

The action comes after President Trump signed an executive order last month that would have halted travel from seven countries with mostly Muslim populations designated by the Obama Administration as “areas of concern” because of terrorist activity.

“What we have here [from the federal government] is overt discrimination against people based on religion,” Councilmember McKeown stated at the hearing.

Local governments around the country are responding to President Trump’s policies in a similarly outspoken manner. Los Angeles councilmembers recently took similar steps to protect minorities and immigrants, with council members Paul Krekorian declaring, “It’s important for the city to get ahead of this and say, ‘We’re not going to stand for this.’”

It’s unclear how these local initiatives – like measures designating whole cities as sanctuary cities – will operate if the Trump administration pulls federal funding or begins conducting immigration raids.

Still, it’s undeniable that communities across the nation are holding their local governments accountable for extra protection in a worrisome time.

“[W]e have a great deal of fear in the community,” noted Santa Monica councilmember McKeown during Thursday’s meeting.

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