city council

A near-capacity crowd fills the Bakersfield City Council Chambers Wednesday evening to discuss adding "In God We Trust" decals to city police and fire vehicles.

Although the issue proved to be divisive, the Bakersfield City Council voted to approve adding “In God We Trust” decals to city police and fire vehicles at a meeting Wednesday evening.

“I love the motto,” said Councilmember Jacquie Sullivan, who requested the council vote on the issue at the last City Council meeting. “It’s meaningful. It’s powerful. Those words are intended to encourage.”

The issue was debated for about two hours in the City Council Chambers, with 30 public speakers making comments. A total of 19 of those speakers were against adding the decals to city vehicles while 11 were in favor.

Councilmembers Willie Rivera and Andrae Gonzales were the only two "no" votes on the issue, and Councilmember Bruce Freeman was absent.

Both Rivera and Gonzales said they wanted to frame the issue as a debate over city policy not over religion.

“I think it’s clear this decision doesn’t represent everybody in this community and I think this is a problem,” Rivera said, explaining his dissent.

Gonzales said he was a Christian, but still did not support the decals.

“The God I believe in is much bigger than a bumper sticker,” he said.

Still, many in the community supported the decals.

Local pastor and Bakersfield Police Department chaplain Angelo Frazier made the initial request to the council to add the nation’s motto to city police and fire vehicles, following in the city of Delano’s footsteps.

“This is our time to uphold the values of courageousness and the amazing sacrifices of those that stormed the beaches of Normandy,” Frazier said at the meeting, referencing the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which is Thursday.

The decals garnered the support of U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who spoke out in favor of the issue to The Californian earlier this week.

BPD officials did not support or object to the decals while they were being debated, instead remaining neutral. BPD Chief Lyle Martin has said he will follow whatever the council ultimately decided.

Private businesses have offered to pay for adding the decals to city vehicles, making the cost to the taxpayer likely nothing, although the details have yet to be worked out.

The American Civil Liberties Union spoke out against the decals.

ACLU attorney Jordan Wells spoke during public comment, urging the council not to add “In God We Trust” to city vehicles.

“Placing ‘In God We Trust' on police cars is bad public policy,” he said, later adding, “Unlike God, police officers are fallible. Their conduct should be scrutinized by the public, and when they overstep their authority, we must insist on accountability.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

(28) comments

GetReal2

Come to think of it, why just on Bakersfield City Police Cars and Firetrucks? Why not “In God We Trust†on City Garbage Trucks? Doesn’t the City Council believe that God shines just as brightly on Garbage men/ women?

Wes

Sad to hear the city council vote this in. Police vehicles need to display "To Serve and Protect" :) The whole IGWT display is a theocratic bull. There is religious "project blitz" push to get these displays up in many public/government settings. Some misguided people equate it as being patriotic. Do people remember a proud government thought God was on their side displayed "Gott mit uns" -"God is with us" .. on patrioti Nazi belt buckles and signs everywhere! "We The People" deserve a government (a city council) which knows this is simply divisive and wrong.

Jen101

This is a constitutional rights violation. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

ParkerG

Nice move, geniuses. Inject politically charged religious statements into what should be an apolitical municipal institution, all while solving absolutely no issues that plague your community.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Unfortunately, I don't believe apolitical municipal institutions exist anymore. Everyone is beholden to someone- be they campaign donors, businesses, unions, party leadership, board members, etc. Very sad indeed...

Finally all our police problems solved! Idiots

GetReal2

Thank Heavens the City Council has its priorities straight. Too many other municipal governments stray from the important work of Christian Faith. How much would it cost to put the expression on Blue City Recycling Bins?

Vavoom

nothing if YOU pay for it?

Tony Tee

We should all be rejoicing. Now Bakersfield has GOD + POLICE presence when you call 911. What a combo!

GetReal2

Amen. Which service of the City Council do you attend?

Meeshka

What a stupid unbelievable colossal waste of time, money and energy. With all the serious problems this city has and people focus on this. No words. What could have all that time, mental energy and money have done for countless victims of crime who aren't helped because of our inhumane lack of police presence?

GetReal2

What could possibly be more important than sharing the Christian Faith?

Vavoom

real christians dont need to be reminded about god through an emblem. in fact, most christians tout they voted for a president who is an adulterer, fornicator, liar, dishonest con man. those who have to be reminded of their faith/god are the least christian... wolf in sheep's clothing

REMUDA

"In God We Trust" (The only One Who matters and remains 'Trust-Worthy') --- Including at least eleven more -- (" . . . 11 were in favor."--seven come eleven . . .) ---- But then . . . of all those who never took "The Oath" . . . ----- This includes these " . . . 19 of those speakers (who) were against . . . " (the absent "Yes" speakers were at their day jobs . . . working to pay for the decals.) ------ " . . . Rivera and Andrae Gonzales were the only two "no" ('nada'; 'nein'; nyet, 'négatif'; ?) votes on the issue," (" . . . city policy not, over religion." . . . but perhaps . . . about the US flag . . . ?) . . . ----- BTW . . . where IS THAT picture of the 'decal', which happens to include our American Flag . . . ! ----- God Bless the USA . . . ! --- Semper Fortis . . . !

GaryJohns

If you're offended by their vehicles....don't call a cop next time you need one.

Vavoom

the vehicles are beautiful, the discussion is about the emblem...focus

bobspapa

For those confused... Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Stickers on a car is in no way forcing someone into believing/joining some form of faith-based belief system.

Nevermind

If you have that much trust, why carry a gun?

GaryJohns

ACLU is against it....That means I must support it...!

JimmyDude

Good point there Gary. Still - the City Council clearly went against the majority of their constituents on this. Plainly, most people don't want this. The "no" votes in the poll in this paper were 2.5 times the 'yes' votes. 30 people showed up to voice their opinions and 19 of them were "no". I'm a middle aged white guy. I probably believe in some form of a God, but these stickers are obviously going to create some kind of additional controversy, divisiveness and tension.Who needs it? I said before, LAPD has " To Protect and to Serve" on their cars. Who could argue that that excludes anyone? This should never even have been considered and definitely should not have passed. I'm glad to see Andre and Willie tried to uphold the wishes of the people the represent.

GaryJohns

Leaders lead when elected. Followers follow.....

REMUDA

Sometimes . . .

JimmyDude

We don't elect "leaders", we elect representatives.

Vavoom

a very faith-based notion... idolize those seated at the throne; dont question them. they will lead us into the light... or off a clif

Citizen

So much for the separation of church and state. Bakersfield needs new leadership.

Moardeeb

Agreed! Mixing religion and government is unamerican. But, living here my whole life, I mean of course! Might as well be I'm Alabama.

GetReal2

Alabama has more water

Nevermind

....and better football

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