Residents urge cancellation of Civil War reenactment, Elk Grove mayor and councilmember responds

This sign on the corner of Big Horn and Laguna boulevards is one of several in Elk Grove promoting a Civil War reenactment. | 

Several speakers during the Wednesday, April 26 Elk Grove City Council meeting urged the mayor and council members to use their influence and get a scheduled U.S. Civil War reenactment canceled. The remarks were made during public comment on non-agenda items. 

The event is scheduled for the Mahon Ranch on Grant Line Road on May 5 and 6, and sponsors include The Native Sons of the Golden West and the Elk Grove Historical Society. Founded in 1875, the NSGW seeks to preserve California's history dating to the 1849 Gold Rush. 

All of the speakers expressed displeasure with the event. They noted the pain and suffering endured by enslaved people.  

One of the speakers opposing the reenactment was Alana Mathews. A 2022 candidate for Sacramento County District Attorney, Mathews noted she had appeared before the city council in 2017 after a hate incident in Elk Grove. 

"I want to say that hate not only shows up in racial slurs, threats, harassment, it also shows up, masked, under the disguise of a historical event that is only celebrating one of the most horrific institutions, and that is the institution of slavery," Mathews said.

Mathews noted the event is outside of city limits but added, "But I would ask that you, as the leaders, stand and make a statement that we are still, 'no place for hate' within our city limits, within our city departments, within our city dollars, that will support such an event."  

There were no speakers from the event nor comments supporting the reenactment. All of the speakers opposing the event can be seen in the video posted below. 

Throughout the comments Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen said the city council could not formally address the issue as it was not on their agenda. Nonetheless, she said she empathized with their concerns.

Interestingly, on a different agenda item later in the meeting Singh-Allen and the city council addressed the controversy. The item concerned event grants to Elk Grove-based groups, one of which was recommended for approval was the Elk Grove Historical Society.

Citing the public comments on the reenactment, Singh-Allen expressed discomfort with the Civil War reenactment sponsored in part by the EGHS and said she would like to talk with the historical society before approving their grant request. The city staff had recommended approving two event grants worth $3,000. 

"I'm not comfortable funding that," Singh-Allen said. "I would encourage a conversation to take place between the historical society, some of the organizers, and maybe the D and I (Diversity and Inclusion Commission) commissioners." 

Councilmember Darren Suen defended the reenactment, saying he did not believe the event was intended to be racist, as suggested during public comment earlier in the evening. 

"I don't think that event was, you know, to be intended what is implied, and, at least, I don't think so," Suen said. "I think that's why the conversation is needed." 

Except for the historical society's request, the city council unanimously approved the recommended event grant requests.  

Also speaking on the matter was District 2 City Councilmember Rob Brewer, the sole African-American on the five-member council and only the second in the city's 23-year history. Brewer noted he knows all of the speakers and expressed solidarity with them opposing the reenactment and reflected on his personal experiences.

Brewer's entire commentary can be viewed in the video below.  

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I wonder what would have happened if MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) came out and protested the City subsidizing Dust Bowl Brewery, or what if PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or the World Animal Protection (WAP) come out against Bobbie's zoo!

Ever get the feeling our "leaders" just jump around issues like pinballs bouncing off bumpers until the machine either tilts or they move on to higher office?  

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