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San Luis Obispo's mayor takes to social media to condemn 'racist hate speech'

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Posted at 6:32 PM, Jul 24, 2023

Over the weekend, masked men held up a “White Men Unite” sign on the sidewalk in front of San Luis Obispo City Fire Station No. 1.

Following the incident, San Luis Obispo’s Mayor Erica Stewart took to social media to condemn what she called "racist hate speech."

“Today, some people came into our community that do not represent the city of San Luis Obispo,” Stewart said on Instagram.

It's at least the third time in recent months that a group of people have been seen holding up a white pride banner in San Luis Obispo County.

“I saw him over by the electrical box and he was waving his arms. I don’t know who he was talking to other than the cars driving by but it got our customers' attention for sure,” said Renee Knox, Conserv Fuel employee.

Knox was working at the gas station across the street from the fire station on Saturday when customers pointed it out to her.

The sign was similar to the one seen in May on the Vineyard Drive overpass in Templeton. That sign read “Embrace White Pride”.

According to the City of San Luis Obispo, the men were not doing anything illegal, but Knox says it stirred up a lot of emotion in her customers.

“Even one of our customers today came in and was very upset about it,” Knox said.

“We firmly stand against racism, bigotry and discrimination of any kind,” Mayor Stewart said in her social media post.

She added that the city council’s vision for the City of San Luis Obispo is one that is welcoming, inclusive and safe for all.

“We live in America where we have the right for free speech, which I am so thankful for, but hate speech — that’s not what I want to amplify,” Stewart said.

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The San Luis Obispo Police Department was unavailable Monday to comment further on the incident but a City spokesperson says the men were gone by the time police arrived.

In Mayor Stewart’s social media post, she encourages people who saw the sign and felt impacted personally to call 2-1-1 for someone to talk to.