Riverside, California 2020-09-16 22:38:32 –
More than a dozen residents called upon Riverside City Councilwoman Gaby Plascencia to step down after her sharing of a social media post that suggested it was hypocritical for Republicans to celebrate Labor Day.
Some who spoke at the Tuesday, Sept. 15, Riverside City Council meeting also asked the council to censure her. Council members did not respond to that request.
Plascencia said by phone Wednesday, Sept. 16, that she won’t resign.
“I am going to keep doing the good work for all the constituents, like I have since I was elected,” Plascencia said.
“It’s a big city and there is a lot of work to do,” she said, adding that she will continue to promote diversity and equal treatment among Riverside residents of all races and ethnic backgrounds.
Plascencia declined to respond to the meeting comments.
“I have no reaction,” she said. “The public is entitled to call in and say whatever they need to say.”
For days there has been a buzz on social media about Plascencia’s sharing of a post that read: “Everything that Labor Day stands for is what Republicans and their white voter base hate, fair wages, vacation benefits, paid sick days, health care, equal pay for women, unions, etc…
“Republicans celebrating Labor Day is nothing, but the purest form of hypoccrisy.”
“They weren’t my words,” Plascencia said, noting that she shared someone else’s post on her personal Facebook page.
This is not the first controversy involving Plascencia.
Shortly after being elected in late 2019, Plascencia attempted to remove the man she beat in November — Sean Mill — from the Riverside Planning Commission. She said Mill was unethical and that she wanted to create more ethnically diverse commissions. She later withdrew the effort. Some critics cited that Tuesday in addition to the social media post.
Riverside resident Anna Miramontes, one of those who criticized Plascencia at the meeting, mentioned that the Ward 5 council member led the charge in early July to declare racism a public health hazard in the county’s largest city.
“It really pains me to see that almost immediately the person who brought forth this declaration demolished, destroyed and very arrogantly passed over the declaration as if it were a meaningless piece of paper,” Miramontes said, according to a videotape of the meeting.
She characterized the councilwoman’s post as a racist comment that has spread “all over the internet for the world to see.”
Miramontes asked Plascencia to resign.
Miramontes said by phone last week that she and Steve Johnson, administrators of the “What’s Going On In Riverside County?” page on Facebook which claims 165,000 followers, called attention to the post and polled people on whether Plascencia should step down.
Susan Pike, another Riverside resident, said during the meeting that Plascencia’s post was “appalling.” She suggested the councilwoman was “openly declaring her dislike and disgust for people who happen to be of what she considers to be the wrong color and political party,” according to the tape.
Judy Atkinson criticized what she characterized as Plascencia’s “Labor Day rant on white people.”
Jessica Peel was one of a few people to defend Plascencia in public-comment phone calls during the meeting, saying the new councilwoman already had done much for the community.
“Honestly, I think this is just a mess that was started by Steve Johnson and Anna Miramontes and their group,” she said.
Plascencia said she has received “a ton of calls” encouraging her to ignore the criticism.
“Being the first Latina elected in Riverside comes with its challenges,” she said.