By Arnold Adler
DOWNEY — The rainbow flag that flew over the City Hall June 23-30, has been taken down until Gay Pride Month next June, but reactions may be forthcoming from a newly formed conservative group in the city.
A national group called MassResistance, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, has reportedly formed in Downey. On its website (MassResistance.org) it identifies itself as a “pro-family” organization and has spoken out against such things as sex education in schools and actions in support of the LGBT community.
The group plans protests on the flag and possibly other issues at future City Council meetings, says Sandi Padilla, the Downey chapter leader of the organization.
“We will definitely continue,” Padilla told a reporter. “We won’t stop now. We elected the council members. We are their constituents. They should listen to our voices.”
Padilla said she has lived in Downey for eight years. Members of her group say City Council members went against the will of the majority of city residents when they approved flying the Gay Pride flag at the June 22 City Council meeting. The vote in favor of flying the flag was 4-1 vote, with Mayor Claudia Frometa dissenting.
“We have some 250 members in Downey and sent out flyers concerning the meeting,” said Arthur Schaper, a Torrance-based blogger and organization director for MassResistance.org.
About 80% of those speaking about the Pride flag issue at the June 22 meeting were against it as were almost all emails received, Schaper said.
The Downey City Clerk’s office said eight of 14 speakers opposed the Pride flag at the June 22 meeting and eight emails on the subject were all in opposition to the flag.
Schaper and others called for removal of Councilwoman Catherine Alvarez, who proposed the flag action, and threatened efforts to defeat her when she comes up for re-election,.
Alvarez, who was elected last November to represent District 3 on the council, did not respond to an email requesting comment.
Her motion June 22 was supported by Mayor Pro Tem Blanca Pacheco and Councilmen Mario Trujillo and Sean Ashton.
Schaper said the Downey Mass Resistance chapter claimed victory in May 2020 by convincing the Downey school board to back off plans approved in September 2019, for a curriculum program called “Teen Talk,” which members alleged dealt with sex education and sexual orientation.
Schaper said the district administration last year notified residents that the courses would not be given. He said the action follows strong protests at board meetings after September 2019 by angry parents.
In an online message, Schaper said Mass Resistance will be promoting its philosophies and actions via frequent emails.