In the hundred-degree heat of Thursday afternoon, pastor Angelo Frazier and members of Bakersfield public safety services sealed the deal on one of the most red-hot debates that has passed through local government this year.
In the parking lot between a southwest Bakersfield police and fire substation, Frazier plastered the first “In God We Trust” decal onto a police car, followed shortly afterward by Bakersfield City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan, who put the decal on a fire truck.
Pointing out the small group of supporters who had come out to celebrate the event during a ceremony, Sullivan basked in the occasion that she had helped bring about.
“We have people that love God and love country and know how important this type of thing is to the long-term success of our country,” she said.
The decal, a postcard-sized American flag with the nation’s motto underneath, will be set onto police and fire vehicles, in a move that advocates say will encourage patriotism throughout the city, indicate support for public safety officers and remind residents of the “guiding principle” of the nation.
“I consider myself a yeasayer, not a naysayer,” Frazier said at the event, referencing the other entities across Kern County that have approved their own version of the stickers. “Yea Shafter (City Council) for approving this. Yea Delano City Council for approving this. Yea Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood for giving the OK for this. Yea for our national motto.”
The Bakersfield City Council approved adding the nation’s motto to police and fire vehicles in a 4-2 vote in June following a request by Frazier.
The vote generated much controversy, with those opposed to the decals saying that placing “In God We Trust” on city vehicles would violate the separation of church and state as well as force officers and firefighters that do not believe in God to display the symbols.
Delano was the first city in Kern County to add the decals to their police vehicles. The movement soon spread across the county.
Private donations paid for the decals, which were made by Javier Malta of West Coast Grafix.
Malta was on hand Thursday to watch his designs being placed on the vehicles.
“It’s a privilege and honor to serve the community and everybody else,” he said. “They called to ask me to help and I said, ‘I’m in 100 percent.’”
At the event, Frazier and Sullivan expressed their hope that “In God We Trust” would spread across the country.
At the end of the ceremony, Frazier pumped his hands into the air and yelled, “Onward to Sacramento!”