In a time when the U.S is facing a reckoning over its racist past, so too are cities like San Leandro, where an ugly history of housing red-lining once created a whites-only suburban enclave in the East Bay.
In addition, months of activism following the death of 33-year-old Steven Taylor at a San Leandro Walmart, the San Leandro City Council is likely to adopt a resolution on Tuesday night to condemn white supremacy, and join a movement urging the FBI to designate the Klu Klux Klan as a domestic terrorist organization.
Police accountability activists and community members have recently asked city leaders to officially condemn racism and hate groups as part of a broader re-examination of race relations between residents and the San Leandro Police Department.
Although the San Leandro of the past bears little resemblance to its present and, possibly its future. A generation ago or more, a concerted effort by some to block an influx of Blacks from buying and renting homes in San Leandro remains part of the city’s history.
Infamously, the 1970 U.S. Census found just 0.1 percent of San Leandro was Black, despite the same demographic in neighboring Oakland having more than one-third of its population.
However, San Leandro’s historical lack of diversity has given way to a vastly changing city demographics. Current Census figures show San Leandro is 37 percent White, 34 percent Asian, 27 percent Latino, and 10 percent Black.
Despite the rapid growth in all racial demographics, racially-motivated incidents still persist. Last May, a woman posted xenophobic leaflets at the front doors of Asian-American residents at the Heron Bay neighborhood of San Leandro telling them to leave the country.
On at least two occasions in the past, burning crosses have been reported in San Leandro, according to a city staff report. Once in 1972 and, again, in 1989.
This is not the first time the idea of punishing hate crimes perpetrated by white supremacy groups has been raised in the East Bay. In the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va. death by white supremacists in 2017, East Bay state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who represents San Leandro, introduced legislation to designate crimes committed by white supremacists to be treated as hate crimes. But the bill languished in the Legislature.