On Monday, the Pittsburg City Council voted to approve Commemorative Flag and Proclamation Schedule for the City of Pittsburg in a 4-1 vote.
The move comes after the city council established an ad-hoc committee to review the protocol for raising flags in honor of nationally proclaimed monthly observances.
On June 24, 2019, the City Council adopted an Outdoor Flagpole Display Policy that provides guidance and standards for the outdoor display of flags at City flagpoles. Per the adopted policy, the City Council shall only consider a request to display a commemorative flag if the request is made by a member of the Pittsburg City Council. At the June 24, 2019, meeting, the City Council also voted to direct staff to fly the Rainbow Pride flag in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month.
On October 21, 2019, the City Council adopted a resolution directing staff to fly the Filipino and Italian flags in honor of Filipino American History Month and Italian American Heritage and Culture Month, respectively.
On February 5, 2020, staff presented a preliminary commemorative flag schedule for calendar year 2020 to the Community Advisory Commission (CAC). The CAC voted 7-0 in favor of recommending a schedule that included continuing to fly the commemorative flags approved in 2019 during the applicable months of celebration (LGBTQ Pride Flag during the month of June; Italian Flag and Filipino Flag during the month of October), as well as a flag commemorating Black History Month in February, and the Japanese Flag in the event delegates from Pittsburg’s Sister City, Shimonoseki, Japan, make a formal visit. The CAC did not make any recommendations regarding proclamations.
On Monday, City Manager Garrett Evans said two changes were added to the policy which included “any” sister city they have would be flown and with it being women’s history month, celebrating their 100 years ability to vote and breaking barriers, that was added.
“This was a lot of discussion of the subcommittee on inclusion and really trying to make sure exclusion was not happening and it was a real challenge,” explained Evans. “It’s a very daunting task to make sure you are inclusionary and not exclusionary for something like this.”
Mayor Jelani Killings stated it looked like this was the same list from last year with a few additions but noted several months were blank.
“With the whole purpose of not being exclusive but be inclusive, I don’t see how this policy is meeting that requirement. There are a number of national recognized days, months and weeks that are not included on the list. But then we are advocating for specific ones,” stated Killings. “I just want to understand the purpose of we are trying to make an inclusive policy but we are exclusive so many recognized nationally months, weeks, days, flags, groups, organization so I think I am still at the same place in terms of my thoughts on the policy. I think it’s a slippery slope to continue to advocate for specific causes, groups, and symbols to be flown on public property because we are not including everybody.”
He questioned the sub-committee stating nothing had been added other than the sister city and the Pan African Flag and how the Pan African Flag was chosen because it was more of an “political ideology”. He wanted to know how they were chosen to represent groups or causes.
“What is it that we are really achieving as a public policy perspective through this flag policy. What specific issue are we addressing in the community and how this policy we believe improves that?” asked Killings.
Craft replied that in terms of the flags, the reason you don’t see it every single month is that it was never that you had to have a flag, it acknowledging, celebrating, proclamations while noting in some instances there were flags.
“If it wasn’t for someone stepping out and saying enough, we wouldn’t be sitting here,
stated Craft. “We are an all minority council; we would not be here. But somebody said we have the right to serve, we have the right to be, we have the right to exist, we have the right to have the same rights as everyone else. That is the reason we are all sitting here.”
She further highlighted she understood they are going to get blow-back for not being inclusive but stated many African Americans, Mexican Americans belief that flag stands for them.
“It’s about the rights you have. The right to feel safe. The right to feel included and a lot of them don’t,” stated Craft. “That is how it was back in the 60’s, the 50’s. the 40’s, the 20’s. We are in the 2020’s we still have some of the same issues and we have to celebrate some victories.”
Killings again stated he realized he was the only voice on this about how good policy was being addressed stating he could list days, organizations and a flag that could be added that were nationally recognized that were not added.
“I get it, we were emotional about certain causes, rights, but I find it really odd to say that our country’s flag doesn’t represent all of us whether there is disagreements or indifference about things that are going on in the nation,” stated Killings. “The fact we are all up here is the testament of the nation we live in. That is really hard to swallow with that perspective.”
He again questioned the council how this policy addresses any specific issue they are dealing with as a city and how is it creating unity where they were aiming for inclusiveness.
“The issue itself is divisive because people feel like mine should be flown as well or why isn’t this considered. Why isn’t that one considered. What is our answer to that,” said Killings who explained that each time this comes up, we continue to exclude why we continue to promote inclusion and said they were not solving that with a narrow list.”
He said he would not support this policy because he had not heard a clear answer on what they were addressing with this policy or how they were guaranteeing inclusive.
Craft state as mayor Killings did have the ability to bring proclamations forward but did point out it was his choice to bring things forward—each one of them have an opportunity to bring something forward.
After public comments, Craft stated in the month of November that their updated version had the Prisoners of War, Missing in Action, and should include the veterans and the military.
Council Member Juan Antonio Banales responded to the mayors question on the goal of the policy which dated back to last year with the LGBT flag.
“The driver there and the goal was to highlight a community that has been targeted. This is there leaders saying we have your back and their leaders showing support for those people who have historically not had support,” stated Banales. “For me, this flag policy is for groups in our community that are underrepresented when it comes to having a seat at the table and equal rights. This country, when it comes to LGBT rights, only recently acknowledged equal rights at the Federal level.”
He continued saying it was meaningful to have a flag because it represents the ideals, the hopes and dreams of a segment of the community and country flown to help show support for them. He also admitted that he did not agree with all of the flags that were flowing saying they get into the weeds when they talk about inclusive—he stated he would have kept it at the LGBT flag which is where this discussion began last year.
After some back and forth by councilmembers on determining what “causes” get a proclamation or flag, City Manager Garrett Evans interjected saying the community can come forward and make the request.
Council Member Holland Barret White then made the motion to move forward with the policy.
“I appreciate the discussion in the fact that the majority of this body is rationalizing with one sole member I think shows the will that we want to be on the same page. I don’t find the conversation too productive because it seems like there is support to move forward,” said White.
The council then voted 4-1 with Killings being the dissenting vote.
At the request Vice Mayor Craft, in November, a flag will fly for the Veterans while they will have proclamations in March for women and in October for Indigenous people
Event (Month of Celebration/Event)
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January)
- Human Trafficking Awareness Month (January)
- Black History Month (February)
- Red Cross Month (March)
- World Down Syndrome Day (March)
- Cesar Chavez Day (March)
- National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April)
- National Library Week (April)
- National Fair Housing Month (April)
- Arbor Day (April)
- Earth Day and Civic Pride Day (April)
- Bike to Work Day (May)
- LGBTQ Pride Month (June)
- Juneteenth (June)
- Relay for Life (June)
- National Night Out (August)
- National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15)
- Clean Air Day (September)
- National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)
- National Arts and Humanities Month (October)
- National Filipino American History Month (October)
- National Italian American Heritage Month (October)
- National Immigrants Day (October)
- Veteran’s Day (November)
- * Whenever possible, proclamations shall be read prior to and/or during the month in which the event
Staff Report Documents: