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Reinette Senum: I will not resign

Teresa Yinmeng Liu
Staff Writer
City Clerk Niel Locke swears in new city council members, from left, David Parker, Reinette Senum and Valerie Moberg at City Hall on July 6.
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Nevada City council member Reinette Senum, whose controversial Facebook comments in the wake of the Dallas shooting incited widespread condemnation from the public, as well as from local law enforcement officers who requested her resignation, said Sunday she will not consider stepping down.

Senum said local officers are hurt because they thought her comments were directed toward them, but instead she was speaking in general terms about police violence that has occurred in other parts of the country.

“I want to apologize because our local police think I’m speaking about them,” she said. “I am speaking about the police out there that has a culture of violence.”

She reiterated that she has always had a good working relationship with the local police officers and will continue to be committed to supporting them during her new term.

Senum also said she was speaking her mind as a private citizen, and not as a representative of Nevada City.

“It’s a conversation that is overdue,” she told The Union Sunday. “Obviously I hit a sore spot. But it’s a conversation that needs to happen,” adding the whole thing is a concealed political attack from a local group who tries to damage her reputation.

“We will be dealing with them shortly, this is much deeper than what it seems,” she said.

Facebook post prompts backlash

A day after a sniper killed five police officers during a Dallas protest, Senum posted a comment on Facebook stating that the shooting was incited by “America’s police force.”

“They have obviously been given directives to go out there and kill. It’s insane and it’s meant to create mayhem,” she wrote Friday.

“…This is the oldest trick in the book … it brings out more violence!!! It’s a terrible cycle that always escalates into something worse. Thus forcing us to ask ourselves, who is benefiting from this? THAT’s the answer I want to get to,” she continued.

Senum has since deleted her comments, but not before it instigated a frenzied discussion on social media and caught the attention of news organizations from Grass Valley, to Sacramento and to Dallas.

Her statement also infuriated many local and regional law enforcement officers, who called for the boycotting of her restaurant and for her resignation from the city council.

Senum apologized Saturday morning, saying she has enjoyed working with the local law enforcement officers and that she was only pointing out “a well-documented trend that is causing a public backlash towards the police.”

“Today, we need to insist that America’s law enforcement includes in their standards and tactics how to interact with members of the public,” she wrote. “We can have great sympathy for our police while holding them to high standards as well as the same laws that apply to the average citizen.”

But the apology was not enough to satisfy some, including local law enforcement officers.

Resignation still sought

Tim Ewing, president of Nevada City Police Officers Association, who sent a “letter of no confidence” to city officials asking for Senum’s resignation, said her apology shows how uneducated Senum is on the issue. He will continue to press for her resignation, he said.

“She mentions the type of training needed by law enforcement, which is already mandated for officers. Her apology shows why she made the comment she did,” he said, adding that he appreciated Senum trying to distance local officers from her accusation of police violence, but it was clear from her original statement that she was referring to the entire “American force.”

“She is very sorry that she painted with a broad brush, but that is exactly what she said,” he added.

Sharing Ewing’s perspective is Jesse King, a Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy who created an online petition that totaled more than 1,800 signatures calling for Senum’s resignation Sunday night. King said Senum owes an apology to law enforcement officers and citizens across the country, not only to local officers.

“The petition would be a good way to call attention to her outrageous Facebook comments, to see how many people would agree with me that the Nevada City Council should ask for her resignation,” he said.

Special meeting called

Nevada City Mayor Evans Phelps said the city stands behind law enforcement officers and she has called a special public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at city hall to discuss a resolution in support of the Nevada City Police Department and law enforcement nationwide.

“We are in complete sympathy for the officers who died in Dallas. We mourn their death, just like we would mourn the death of our police officers,” she said.

Nevada City Police Chief Tim Foley said his heart goes out to the victims of Dallas. He said there needs to be open dialogue of “expectation and responsibility” for the community as well as for law enforcement.

“The war of words on law enforcement officers has transcended into cold-blood premeditated attacks, I and the members of the Nevada City Police Department are greatly saddened and disturbed by the comments made by public figures throughout the country. It’s counter-productive for any individuals to fan the flame of hate toward any group,” he said.

“Constructive and productive dialogue needs to begin,” he added. “I expect our public figures to build and not to divide.”

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please email tliu@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4236.

FINAL CC Special Meeting 07.13.2016

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