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Government & Politics

Fresno City Council Members Determined To Raise Pride Flag At City Hall; Mayor Presents Alternative

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Fresno city leaders are at odds over a resolution city council passed last week that would allow elected officials to decide which honorary flags to fly at City Hall.  

 

The discussion over the resolution came with a heated exchange when Councilmember Esmeralda Soria spoke about a request to raise the Pride flag.

 

“What makes me extremely sad is that you are supposedly saying that we want a One Fresno, but as soon as we are trying to raise the Pride flag, you make it an issue,” she said.  

 

Mayor Jerry Dyer interrupted her, “That’s absolutely a lie, Councilmember Soria.” 

 

He argued the issue wasn’t about his support for the LGBTQ community. 

 

“It has nothing to do with the pride flag, it has opened it up to organizations that may want to fly a flag like MAGA,” he said.

 

A Pride celebration has already been planned at City Hall on Friday, June 11th to mark the raising of the Pride flag. But Dyer presented an alternate plan Thursday at a news conference downtown at Eaton Plaza. Dyer suggested a community space to raise flags, away from City Hall. 

 

“The creation of Unity Park at Eaton Plaza as a free speech area with flag poles will allow for a variety of flags to be raised in our city,” he said.

 

 

He said he stands with the LGBTQ community but worries a flag at city hall will set the wrong precedent.

“If City Hall desires to allow the raising of flags by groups and organizations on city property, then we must be inclusive and not discriminate against any group or organization,” Dyer said. 

But councilmember Esmeralda Soria said the Pride flag represents people, not a cause and she will seek to override any veto of the resolution. 

“I think recognizing our LGBTQ community at City Hall remains the best way for our city to demonstrate that we’re a city of inclusion,” she said.

Councilmember Miguel Arias issued a statement responding to the mayor’s announcement.

“City Hall, not Eaton Plaza, is where Fresnans for decades have gathered to show unity as a community. ‘One Fresno’ starts by leaving behind separate-but-equal solutions and embracing unity in our most powerful institutions,” he said.

The resolution passed 5-2 last week, but has sharply divided the city council. District 6 city councilmember Garry Bredefeld stood with Dyer to oppose the resolution. 

“The resolution that passed, that I didn’t support, was a divisive one. It basically allowed flags or people to promote causes. Now, it might not seem like a big deal until somebody brings forward a cause that you don't like,” he said.

If the flag is flown at City Hall next week for the Pride celebration, it would be for the first time. Soria said other major cities in California have raised the Pride flag including Oakland and Sacramento.