FRESNO, California (KGPE) – On Thursday, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer proposed the creation of a new space he is calling “Unity Park” at Eaton Plaza in Downtown Fresno. He was joined by city council members Mike Karbassi and Garry Bredefeld. Dyer says it would be a space for any group to fly a flag that represents them. He wants to launch the park with a LGBTQ+ pride flag raising ceremony next Friday, June 11.
This comes after a heated exchange at a city council meeting just under a week ago where the council passed a resolution of 5-2 allowing the council to permit a rainbow pride flag to be flown above Fresno City Hall. A flag-raising ceremony at City Hall has also been planned for next Friday, June 11.
Dyer says he wants Eaton Plaza to be a new location for flag-raising ceremonies in the city, and that he wants to keep the American flag, the California flag, and the City of Fresno flag, along with the POW flag flying outside Fresno City Hall permanently.
“This is truly an ideal location to become the city’s freedom of speech area,” Dyer said of Eaton Plaza.
Dyer says he and the city council will issue a proclamation in the near future declaring June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Fresno. Dyer’s office confirmed that the proclamation will be issued on June 10. Dyer says this move is all about creating a space where any group can fly a flag that represents them, including faith-based organizations.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with any particular organization or group of people including the LGBTQ community, who I love dearly,” Dyer said.
Dyer feels the city council resolution passed last week allowing the pride flag to fly at City Hall excludes other groups.
“This resolution in my opinion is not inclusive, and will serve to divide our community as it is currently written.”
Jeffery Robinson is one of the founders of “Fresno Rainbow Pride,” the organization behind Fresno’s annual pride parade. He says he is not happy with the mayor’s decision.
“I really do feel like he is just trying to appease two sides that aren’t necessarily going to see eye to eye,” Robinson said. “I don’t believe this is truly in the vision of his ‘One Fresno.'”
Robinson says he has been fighting for more local LGBTQ+ visibility since the creation of “Fresno Rainbow Pride” in the early 90s. He says the pride flag flying at City Hall will serve as a symbol of the inclusion he and his community have been yearning for.
“We are in contact with the city council and their intentions of holding a flag-raising ceremony at Fresno city hall on June the 11,” Robinson said. “This is our symbol of hope and it is appropriate that it would be flown there.”
Robinson along with council member Miguel Arias is still set on having the ceremony at City Hall. Arias released a statement on Thursday which reads in part:
“City Hall, not Eaton Plaza, is where Fresnans for decades have gathered to show
unity as a community. ‘One Fresno’ starts by leaving behind separate-but-equal
solutions and embracing unity in our most powerful institutions.
I look forward to working with my Council Colleagues to recognize our LGBTQ+
community at City Hall as we have done so for so many other communities in our
diverse and inclusive city.”
Mayor Dyer has not indicated whether he will veto the resolution to have the pride flag fly at City Hall.