Laguna Beach should thank its lucky stars it has Toni Iseman as its mayor and Laura Farinella as its chief of police. Last Sunday, while our city manager was away, Mayor Iseman and Chief Farinella took the helm to keep the peace from the prospects of what could have been a very ugly scenario — like what happened in Sacramento last year under similar circumstances that resulted in seven persons stabbed and 10 hospitalized.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, more than 2,000 people participated in a counter-demonstration against the America First rally that was attracting a mix of white supremacists and neo-Nazis eager for attention and confrontation in progressive and tolerant Laguna Beach. The community took a conspicuous stance – not only against white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but demonstrated its contempt at President Trump’s false equivalency of white supremacists and counter protesters that led to the tragic death of young anti-hate marcher, Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.
Our Mayor Iseman provided remarkable leadership when she voiced her own First Amendment message at the Unity Rally on Saturday that hate is not welcome in Laguna Beach, but critically, backed up her rhetoric with a show of force on Sunday unseen in Laguna Beach with barricades along Main Beach, more than 250 law enforcement in riot gear and a dozen horse-mounted police as a means to protect all of our rights to free speech without threat of intimidation or violence.
Mayor Iseman’s and the chief’s decisive action should serve as a strong deterrent to the hate groups to think twice if they choose Laguna Beach as a stage for their vitriol and intemperance. Laguna should serve as a model how to treat diversity with love and respect and how to deal responsibly with those who don’t. Thank you Mayor Iseman and Chief Farinella.
Alan Boinus, Laguna Beach
A letter from Alan Boinus in the Aug. 25 edition incorrectly said that City Manager John Pietig was out of town during two weekend demonstrations. The letter writer was misinformed.