Simi Valley to Form Equity and Inclusion Task Force

The City of Simi Valley will establish a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to examine equitable access to city services among all racial and ethnic groups. The team will be made up of city department heads, though it may later include members of the public. City officials hope to have it up and running by summer’s end.

The idea for an equity task force has been floated ever since the death of George Floyd last summer. But Simi Valley has a long, fraught history when it comes to race relations. It was in this predominantly white suburb that a jury found four LAPD officers not guilty of beating Rodney King in 1992. Riots engulfed the City of Los Angeles in the trial’s aftermath and, for many, Simi Valley became a symbol of systemic racism and injustice.

Some racial justice advocates expressed skepticism that Simi Valley has what it takes. Progressive activist Leanna Brand criticized the decision to create a task force of city leaders.

"If you're looking for actual equity, wouldn't you bring in community members right from the beginning? So, right there the whole premise is flawed," she told the Ventura County Star.

Deputy City Manager Samantha Argabrite, who will lead the task force, pointed out that the initial goal is to evaluate the city’s internal processes and level of service. “Employees are the ones who are going to be able to provide the best expertise,” she explained.