Our favorite “Danish capital of America” is still trying to figure out how best to represent its identity as a diminutive Denmark here on the Central Coast while also trying to hear and act on requests from its residents to represent their identities and values. To many, those are not different things.

In February, the Solvang City Council rejected a proposal to allow a Rainbow House Inc., a local LGBTQ-plus resource center, to hang Pride banners and repaint sidewalks in a rainbow theme during June’s Pride Month celebrations. Since then, members of Santa Ynez Valley Pride, an LGBTQ-plus events organization, asked the real Denmark to please stand up and help Solvang see that Danish values include LGBTQ-plus values.

Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, lord mayor of Copenhagen, said this in a letter to Solvang: “In the spirit of friendship between our cities, I urge you to give Santa Ynez Valley Pride and your local LGBTI[-plus] community the full support of your City Council, in the same way that the Municipality of Copenhagen wholeheartedly supports Copenhagen Pride for the benefit of all Copenhageners, and to show the world that respect and acceptance are vital elements in a modern, welcoming society.”

Solvang has its chance on April 24, as Rainbow House Inc. is re-presenting its proposal to hang Pride banners. Lord Mayor Andersen’s counterpart, Mayor Mark Infanti, has the opportunity to lead the city on this issue, despite the “lack of consensus” expressed in the outpouring of letters for and against the Pride banners. How will Solvang represent?

In Santa Maria, an issue of representation also came up recently. In the wake of the Santa Maria Police off-duty officer-involved shooting of José Manuel Reyes Rios at the end of March, local organizations are rallying for transparency and change.

Rebekah Spicuglia, executive director of One Community Action, explained that during the April 9 rally and calls for justice, “at every point the march organizers and One Community Action checked in with [Reyes Rios’ mother] to confirm that things were aligned with what she was looking to get out of the march.”

Meanwhile, a group called The Central Coast Organization advertised that it was “demanding justice for the family of José Manuel Reyes Rios” at the April 9 march. On March 29, the organization posted on Istagram, “In honor of Jose Manuel Reyes Rios abolish the police” in all capital letters.

Else Martinez—a family friend who set up Reyes Rios’ GoFundMe—said that she didn’t stand with the organizations that led the April 9 march for justice, specifically pointing to The Central Coast Organization. She also asked on GoFundMe that if people feel the need to march in the streets for Reyes Rios to not associate him with “abolish the police.”

“I feel as this group took advantage of a grieving mother and are using her son’s name for their own benefit,” Martinez’s GoFundMe update read. “I understand in too many situations cops fully take advantage of their power and abuse it. I do not believe the officer is fully innocent/ethical but I also don’t believe Jose is fully innocent either.”

In the midst of tragedy, Martinez was able to see both sides represented. I think we can all learn from that.

The canary is underrepresented. Send proclamations to [email protected].

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