Even though Councilwoman Michele Fiore stepped down as Mayor Pro Tem, many people speaking at Wednesday’s City Council meeting said it wasn’t enough.
Fiore, who has faced criticism for racist comments at the Clark County Republican Party convention on June 6, relinquished her post Tuesday night.
The Las Vegas Chapter of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter movement were among groups attending Wednesday’s meeting that want more to be done. Some called for Fiore to resign from the council while others admonished Councilman Stavros Anthony and Councilwoman Victoria Seaman for recent comments about protests.
Prior to the meeting, Roxann McCoy, the president of the local NAACP chapter, explained concerns about Fiore’s actions and comments have been ongoing.
More recently, she pointed to a proposed Blue Lives Matter event with Fiore, Anthony and Seaman as a recent example of reckless behavior.
“Blue lives do matter, but right now it’s about Black lives and the injustices that are taking place,” McCoy said. “I think they were purposefully pitting Black lives against blue lives. (Fiore’s) constituents and followers are all extremist, white conservatives. They all come strapped with guns and ready to use them. They are the ones at our peaceful protests causing anarchy. That was a direct clash waiting to happen.”
Far right extremists attempting to disrupt other protests have been arrested.
Fiore pulled her support from the proposed event and it was eventually canceled.
Around 100 people attended the press conference prior to the council meeting. Even though they were there to speak out against several council members, their response has a deeper importance.
Nationwide protests have sparked activists to demand changes to racist structures that allow Black men like George Floyd to be killed by the police.
“Mainstream white America has been living in a bubble and it appears that bubble popped,” said Craig Knight, the general manager of Power 88. “Now everyone is calling asking, ‘what can we do? What can we say?’ We need you to stop saying, ‘I’m not a racist’ because we don’t want to hear that. What we need to know is are you anti-racist? Because if you’re anti-racist you will speak up against racism and stand up and stand with us.”
Protesters also want police reform and changes to the political structures that continue to stand in the way of progress. As one speaker pointed out, politicians won’t make necessary changes if they don’t believe some lives, Black lives, matter.
Yesterday, the City of Las Vegas announced public comment would not be taken until the end of the meeting, but many stuck around to speak.
The council capped each speaker at one minute. Audience members relinquished their time in order for others, such as McCoy, to speak longer.
Most, including McCoy, took aim at Fiore.
“You have shown time and time again through your rhetoric and actions that you don’t possess the temperament, sensitivity or progressiveness that an elected official must have in order to lead this community,” she said. “You’ve advocated for citizens to point guns at police officers and law enforcement. You have described the U.S. Marshals and law enforcement officers doing their jobs as thugs.”
McCoy was referring to Fiore’s support of the Bundy standoff in 2014.
“Now in a time when we have police misconduct and injustice and you have people of color involved, you are now a supporter of police,” she continued. “But when the police are doing their job to enforce the laws of the land and the citizens are white and armed, you stand with the citizens and say it is OK to defy law enforcement and point guns.”
Halfway through public comment, Fiore left the chambers and didn’t return.
After Fiore stepped down as Mayor Pro Tem Tuesday, Mayor Carolyn Goodman suggested Anthony would be a good replacement, which several people noted as “tone deaf.”
Anthony has also received pushback from tweets about the protests.
“We need to open Jean prison today as a holding facility for all violent rioters and ship them back to the state they came from,” Anthony wrote in one tweet.
“Police officer shot. He needs our prayers. This has to stop today. Violent thugs do not control our community. Implement a curfew. Call out the national guard. Arrest all violent rioters immediately. No bail. Law and order,” Anthony asserted in another tweet.
In addition to admonishing council members and calling for Fiore to resign, many also spoke against the ordinance that bans backpacks and strollers. Citing it as an emergency action, the council unanimously approved the ordinance June 2 without public comment.
Annette Magnus, the executive directive of Battle Born Progress, called the ordinance “racist and unnecessary” and said it would disproportionately affect communities of color.
“It is our First Amendment right to protests and restrictions like these do nothing but encourage more interactions with the police that Black and brown folks already do not trust,” she said.