Glendale News-Press (California)
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News
November 1, 2013 Friday

Resident urges council to adopt Sinanyan-related anti-hate measure

by Brittany Levine, Glendale News-Press, Calif.

Nov. 01--A Glendale resident called on the City Council this week to
adopt a proclamation against all hate speech, hate crimes and bullying
in the city in response to the silence that's followed Councilman
Zareh Sinanyan's apology for writing threatening and vulgar comments
on YouTube before he was elected.

Grey James, who has lived in Glendale for 10 years, said although
Sinanyan apologized for the comments after being elected, there has
been little discussion since about the issue. And when some public
speakers complained about Sinanyan's comments at his first council
meeting after being elected in April, Mayor Dave Weaver told them to
"can it."

Quickly sweeping the issue under the rug and admonishing critics
created a dynamic in which people who are different may be afraid to
speak up in front of the council, James said.

"The reality is there is a confessed racist on City Council and, so
far, Glendale is a city that supports hate speech," the small-business
manager said during a City Council meeting Tuesday.

As a person who identifies as "gender queer," James said he knows what
it's like to be discriminated against and belittled.

"If you don't fit the scheme and you also live in Glendale, yes,
people have these experiences," he said. "It's not like we're getting
beat up every day; it's the nuances of everyday interaction."

Councilwoman Laura Friedman supported the idea of writing a
proclamation against hate speech during the meeting and Councilmen Ara
Najarian, Zareh Sinanyan and Frank Quintero all said they would
support it as well after the meeting. "I support it wholeheartedly,"
Sinanyan said.

Mayor Dave Weaver did not return a request for comment.

Sinanyan's comments, which were written over several years, were first
revealed in March and included racist and sexist references mostly
geared at Armenia's geopolitical enemies. The comments, at one point,
were written under a pseudonym, but then were linked to Sinanyan.

Before the election, the council discussed booting Sinanyan off a city
commission, but decided against it. Sinanyan said at the time that the
comments do not reflect his values. After winning election, he
admitted to writing the comments and apologized from the dais.

Najarian said the proclamation could touch on many aspects of human
rights, including bullying, intimidation, ethnic bigotry and
discrimination in general.

"Hopefully, people understand that we're against that sort of bigotry,
bullying and discrimination, but it certainly doesn't hurt to go on
the record and have the resolution clear for the record," Najarian

James said he knows that the proclamation may not have a direct impact
on how people act, but it wouldn't be the first time the council
passed a mostly ceremonial resolution, such as proclaiming October as
Filipino American Month or supporting a Los Angeles River
revitalization plan for projects outside the city's borders.

"I understand this is a symbolic gesture. I still think it's a
necessary symbolic gesture," James said.

Before the City Council can review such a proclamation, at least two
members or the mayor must request that a discussion on the matter be
put on the agenda.