The criticism stems from comments made by Fletcher in a Zoom call with Democratic party leaders after the violent Capitol insurrection in Washington D.C. Fletcher stated, “There is substantial evidence that those who are leading this recall effort are linked and associated with neo-Nazi, with white supremacists, with right-wing militia groups, and we cannot stand for this here either,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Fletcher did not criticize those who signed the recall petition, focusing on the movement’s leaders.
By Miriam Raftery
February 12, 2021 (Santee) – The Santee City Council voted 4-0, with one abstention, to condemn Nathan Fletcher, chair of the County Board of Supervisors, for “divisive language” referring to backers of efforts to recall Governor Gavin Newsom.
A letter signed by Mayor John Minto and sent to Supervisors criticizes Fletcher for characterizing recall leaders as “ extremists, conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, right wing militia groups and white supremacists. Hate has no place in Santee. Hateful rhetoric has no room in political discussions.”
The letter called for Supervisor Fletcher to publicly apologize to more than a million people who have signed the recall petition and to resign from the Supervisors.
Santee’s five Councilmembers are all Republicans. But one member, Santee Councilman Ronn Hall, abstained from voting, stating that he didn’t think the letter would accomplish anything, adding, “We’ll probably make an enemy, and probably more than one. They [Democrats] own the country and they’re going to do what they’re going to do.”
Far from resigning or apologizing, Fletcher tweeted the Santee Council’s letter with this remark: “That moment when the city of Santee officially lost their mind.”
On Facebook sites devoted to Santee discussions, a few praised the Council’s actions, but many attacked it, noting the city’s long history of racism and a Councilmember, Dustin Trotter, who reportedly co-founded Defend East County (DEC), a group kicked off of Facebook after many racist and violent posts.
Michael Schwartz, executive director of the San Diego County Gun Owners, posted, “Santee City Council calls for Nathan Fletcher's resignation in an extremely well written letter! Thank you to all the Santee City Council members who voted for this.”
James Alan Jones wrote, “Does not agreeing with Newsomes [sic] agenda or like the way he's handling covid make you a White Supremacist?”
Daniel Balcomb replied to Fletcher’s post with this comment. “Sir, people want to recall Governor Newsom because of his failures. From the vaccine distribution to the billions given to prisoners to the rolling blackouts.”
But others lambasted the Santee Council’s actions as hypocritical.
Collin Cady wrote, “…they ignore plenty of constituents' calls and notes regarding the groups that actually represent hate and violence in Santee.”
Jason Houck stated, “What pointless action on the first question to recall a governor during a pandemic. Secondly this city council has not condemned DEC or any of the violent behavior in the city of Santee.”
Another poster wondered why the Council asked for Fletcher’s resignation, but never called for Congressman Duncan Hunter to resign after he was indicted on federal crimes. (Hunter eventually pleaded guilty and resigned.)
During public comments at the Santee Council meeting, Mary Hyder asked why the Council never sent a letter to ask State Senator Randy Voepel to resign for his statement likening the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack to “Lexington and Concord.”
On Fletcher’s social media, Matthew, no last name, wrote, “Santee felt personally attacked, seeing how they’re the right-wing terrorist capital of San Diego County.”
Doug Porter wrote, “Klantee gonna Klantee,” a reference to its long history of racially-motivated incidents including shoppers in Santee recently photographed wearing a KKK hood and masks with swastikas, as well as violent altercations between racial justice protesters and counter-protesters, some wearing confederate flags as they taunted protesters and in some cases, waged physical assaults caught on video.
The city has taken some steps to address racial issues, including its recent adoption of a campaign promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
But the reactions provoked by the Council’s letter serve as evidence that the city still has a long way to go to restore the public trust on racial equality issues.