PALM SPRINGS — Residents are welcome and encouraged to participate in a Zoom listening session on Saturday, July 18 that focuses on policing, racism, discrimination and other related issues.

The Palm Springs City Council is hosting the event.

The listening comes in the wake of a tense exchange between Mayor Pro Tem Christy Holstege and over a letter Holstege wrote  to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors supporting Supervisor V. Manuel Perez’s resolution condemning the brutal murder of George Floyd and request to review the polices and practices of the Sheriff’s department.

Her letter stated, in part, “Like most communities throughout Riverside County, in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, we have a long history of racial segregation and exclusion, racial violence, racist city policies and policing, and injustice and disparities in our community that exist today. These have real and long-lasting effects on our residents’ daily lives and last for generations.”

Joe Cook, president of the Palm Springs Police Officers’ Association, took umbrage with the letter, saying, “If this were the case, the Mayor Pro Tem and every City Council person has a responsibility to fire each and every one of our officers.  Mayor Pro Tem Holstege has stood by for the past two years allowing these perceived racist ideologies within our city and department to continue.  This has not been mentioned once and not one suggestion of reform has been brought forward by Mayor Pro Tem Holstege or any other city council member.  In fact, we have received accolades from our city council members.  Our city council, like our community, has been incredibly supportive in the past.”

Following the exchange, Police Chief Bryan Reyes posted on his Facebook page.

“In the last few days, I have watched the discussions transpiring between our police officer’s association, our Mayor Pro Tem and our community. We must work together on the issue of race relations and have an open and transparent conversation about real or perceived racism in our community and within our police department. Those discussions will be difficult but necessary,” Reyes said. “We must discuss our history to have a better understanding and we must be willing to discuss current real or perceived experiences of racism within our community and police department. This must occur if we have any hope for meaningful change. I am confident the Palm Springs Police Officers Association, our City Council and our Community will work on this very important issue as we move forward.”

As the Police Chief, Reyes said he does not tolerate instances of hate, bigotry, or profiling among any of his staff. He mentioned upcoming meetings, saying that, during these conversations we must all be willing to learn from each other, to appreciate the great police department we have in Palm Springs, and also have the same level of appreciation for needed change.

The July 18 online virtual listening session will take place at 11 a.m. Residents may call in live public comments via telephone by calling the City Clerk’s Office at (760) 323-8204 no later than 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16 to be added to the comment queue. At the appropriate time, a staff member will call each residents in order to provide public comment to the City Council.

Public comments may also be submitted electronically by emailing [email protected]. In addition, residents may provide recorded audio or video comments, (file size limit is 25mb), which can be emailed to [email protected]. Public comments are limited to three minutes and may be submitted anonymously.

The Zoom listening Session will be broadcast live on Palm Springs Community Television, on the city’s website by clicking here and on the city’s YouTube channel.

A Spanish language and ASL interpreter will also be provided. In addition, a Spanish language simulcast will be available on the city’s YouTube channel. Spanish speakers can find the simulcast by visiting and clicking on the YouTube icon in the top right hand corner of the city’s website. For more information, click here.

Image Sources

  • Racism: Shutterstock