Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – The chair of Humboldt County’s Human Rights Commission has told the Board of Supervisors that social and political divisions are prevalent and “dangerous for the community.”
Jim Glover of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) presented the commission’s annual report to supervisors at their Oct. 9 meeting.
The report covered a range of human rights-related issues that are affecting the county. Glover said homelessness is one of the most urgent challenges and the community’s reaction to it has been ineffective and divided.
“We are concerned that despite the impacts of homelessness on real human beings and the effects on businesses and tourism, and the immense costs of law enforcement related to street issues, the problems persist inadequately addressed,” he said. Glover added that approaches to resolving homelessness are not advancing quickly enough and “in the meantime, our community becomes more and more polarized.” He also emphasized that racism and social division are negatively affecting the community.
“We cannot pretend issues of ethnic discrimination and hatred do not exist in Humboldt County,” he said, adding that “our indigenous people are crying out for long overdue attention to their grievances.”
Glover also told supervisors that “our small but growing population of people of color, especially students, are not satisfied with our institutions as they address concerns of public safety.”
Social and political divisions are also expressed through “our hate-filled rhetoric that is alive and well on social media and even in our public debate during election periods,” Glover said. “Long term, this is dangerous for the community.”
Supervisor Estelle Fennell agreed with the report’s assessment of polarization, describing it as an issue “that’s really difficult for everybody who’s trying to do something positive for our communities.”
She added that “pointing the finger of blame” is “detrimental to moving forward and those who recognize polarization need to keep that in mind as we open up the dialogue.”
The report also highlights the HRC’s collaboration with the Humboldt Area Foundation on documenting human trafficking in the county.
Glover described human trafficking as “partly a result of our black market days of the cannabis trade” and said “the public is vastly unaware of the toll this activity has taken on our community.”
The report also notes the HRC’s shortage of commissioners. Glover said that supervisorial districts three and five have one commissioner vacancy each and district two has two vacancies.
Supervisors representing those districts said they’d renew efforts to make appointments.
A written version of the report highlights the commission’s activities during the year. They include supporting improvement of conditions for jail inmates and promoting the approval of a human rights and diversity resolution.