Numerous Public Officials, Community Organizations React To Racial Slur Used At Supervisors Meeting

Various community organizations and individuals have reacted to an incident at Tuesday’s Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting in which a speaker was not stopped after using an ethnic slur. During a public comment period about tiny houses Alex Bielecki used the “N” word while complaining about declining property values. Black activist Nathan “Blaze” Pinkney reacted by loudly demanding that Bielecki leave. Supervisor Mary Rickert suggested that the use of such offensive language should result in the ejection of the offending speaker, and supervisor Tim Garmin backed her up. Bielecki was then allowed to return to the podium, during which he held up his middle finger to Blaze. Board Chair Patrick Jones defended the use of the offensive language as a First Amendment issue and ejected Blaze from the chambers for speaking out of order. He was escorted out by private security rather than a Sheriff’s Deputy because he had broken no law. The Shasta County Equal Justice Coalition says the response “cannot be excused under cover of free speech”, to which there are limits, and that allowing such speech undermines public trust. The United Way of Northern California says use of racial slurs creates an intimidating environment that inhibits free speech rather than promoting it. A number of current and former local elected officials have also criticized the handling of the incident.