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City Councilmember Tammy Kim Leads 3-to-2 Vote Directing Council to Ignore Hate Incidents in Our Local Irvine Schools

by

Irvine City Councilmember Tammy Kim

There are a variety of reasons why families plant roots here in Irvine. We have won countless awards for being the nation’s best planned community; we’ve been named “America’s Safest Big City” for 18 consecutive years; our schools are ranked among the best in the country; and, according to census data, we are the most diverse and thoroughly integrated city in the United States.

None of those achievements came by accident. Decades ago, City leaders invested money and resources to attract families from around the globe, encouraging them to become part of our wonderfully diverse community.

Early local leaders also made the strategic decision to invest heavily in public safety. Today, nearly 40% of the City’s annual budget — more than $100 million — goes to our exceptional Irvine Police Department. Part of that budget is used to keep our schools safe through the City’s funding of crossing guards and highly trained Irvine police officers, known as School Resource Officers, who work full-time in Irvine’s high schools and middle schools.

Over the past few months, Irvine parents and students have attended City Council meetings, asking the Council to address hate incidents in our local community. A number of parents have reported that their children are being harassed at Irvine schools based on their heritage, religion, attire, and their individual opinions regarding the current war in the Mideast.

In response to residents’ pleas for the City to address the anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli, anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim hate in our schools, Mayor Farrah Khan and Vice Mayor Larry Agran made the following motion at last month’s Council meeting:

We move that the City Manager, in cooperation with Irvine school district officials —  both in the Irvine Unified School District and the Tustin Unified School District — be directed to develop a program to ensure that City-deployed staff, including School Resource Officers, along with school district personnel, are increasingly effective in promoting a school environment where all members of the school community are made to feel safe and respected at all times, and where anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian, anti-Israeli, and anti-Arab behaviors are immediately addressed.

If you thought no one would vote against an affirmative motion like that, you would be wrong.

Councilmember Tammy Kim attacked the motion, voted against it, and demanded the Council do nothing. That’s right. The same Councilmember who, to her credit, brought forward a motion back in 2021 to have the City address anti-Asian hate in our community now opposes the City addressing other forms of hate. Councilmember Kim said that the Council has no business getting involved in “foreign” affairs.

Maybe someone needs to inform Councilmember Kim that Irvine schools are not located in a foreign country.

Apparently, Councilmembers Kathleen Treseder and Mike Carroll need a geography lesson too (and a class in empathy) because they joined Kim in killing the motion.

In a City known for its rich cultural diversity, it is unacceptable to have three members of the Irvine City Council vote against a measure intended to keep all forms of hate out of our local schools.

Last weekend, we learned that while Councilmembers Kim and Treseder were voting against the measure to address hate incidents in Irvine schools, they had been directing the Irvine Police Department (IPD) to add extra patrols around their homes because their families felt threatened — even though IPD spokesperson, Sgt. Karie Davies, told the Orange County Register this week: “There is no active investigation into any credible threat.”

Franklin J. Lunding

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