LANCASTER – A political mailer making the rounds with local voters this week claims Lancaster City Council candidate Johnathon Ervin “organized and led an anti-law enforcement protest to attack our Lancaster Deputy Sheriffs.”
But the mailer, which was produced by Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, is nothing more than a lie-filled hit piece, and there is plenty of evidence online to prove it. This according to community activist Veronica Fields, who organized the March 29, 2012 Hoodie March for Solidarity Against Stereotypes – the event referenced in Parris’ political mailer.
“It’s a flat out lie. This hit mailer does not at all accurately represent what took place at the march,” Fields said Thursday. “Mayor R. Rex Parris should be ashamed of himself, the residents of Lancaster deserve better than this.”
The front of Parris’ political mailer reads “Anti-Law Enforcement Candidate Johnathon Ervin Attacks Our Lancaster Deputy Sheriffs,” and it features a picture of Ervin at the Hoodie March. The back of the mailer contains a letter from Parris, which claims the march was an “anti-law enforcement protest” where Lancaster deputies were repeatedly and publicly labeled “murderers and thugs.” But Fields pointed to several online videos taken from the event, which she says prove that Parris is lying and that the mayor actually supported the march in 2012.
In one of the videos, Lancaster Mayor Emeritus Bishop Henry Hearns tells the crowd of more than 1,000 attendees that Parris asked him to pass along a message of encouragement. And in another video, Hearns said the mayor is “totally with” the march. Another video shows Ervin outlining the route for the march, and shaking hands with and thanking several Lancaster deputies. And in yet another video, Ervin is explaining the purpose behind the march. (View all the videos below.)
Read The AV Times coverage of the 2012 Hoodie March here.
“The purpose of the Hoodie March for Solidarity was for Antelope Valley residents to come together in solidarity against stereotypes,” Fields said, adding that attendees were encouraged to wear hoodies in memory of the 17-year-old Florida teen killed about a month earlier. “This march was not just about Trayvon Martin, it was about victims of senseless violence in our community as well.”
Ervin was just one of several speakers at the march, Fields said. Other speakers included Lancaster Mayor Emeritus Bishop Henry Hearns; current local NAACP President V. Jesse Smith; Antelope Valley Fair Board member and Palmdale Sheriff’s Station Community Advisory Committee member Lilia Galindo; Lancaster Citizen Elections Committee member Darren Parker; Lancaster Neighborhood Vitalization Commissioner Stan Muhammad; Lancaster Human Tapestry Relations Commissioner and Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Community Advisory Committee member Dr. Miguel Coronado and others.
Coronado referenced the local sheriff’s department during his speech, Fields said. Still, Coronado was later appointed by Parris to serve on a city commission and selected for the local sheriff’s community advisory committee, Fields pointed out.
In addition to labeling Ervin an anti-law enforcement candidate, Parris’ political mailer also implies that Ervin supports street gangs.
“Electing Ervin to the City Council would give street gangs a green light to resume their criminal activities in Lancaster,” Parris’ letter states. View the entire mailer here.
In denouncing the mailer, Ervin, an Air Force veteran, said he was committed to running a campaign that was “honest and on the issues.”
“Enough with the bully tactics, let’s build a better Lancaster; and that does not start with running negative ads or promoting lies in a political smear campaign,” Ervin stated in a news release. View Ervin’s entire response here.
Ervin also called on incumbent candidates Marvin Crist and Ron Smith (whom the mailer endorses) to denounce Parris’ negative ads.
Contacted by phone Wednesday, Crist said he had not seen the mailer, Parris did not discuss it with him beforehand, and that it was entirely the mayor’s doing.
“I won’t comment on the mailer itself, and probably wouldn’t even if I’d have seen it myself,” Crist said. “I believe Council candidates should be positive in their public comments.”
Smith, however, said everything in the mailer was “true and accurate” and advised Ervin to “stand up and take it.”
“That was nothing,” Smith said. “If you can’t take a hit like that, you shouldn’t run for office.”
Parris is standing by his decision to put out the political mailer.
“I stand by it absolutely,” Parris said. “Why wouldn’t I?”
The Lancaster city election takes place April 8. The last day to register to vote is Monday, March 24.
Hearns to Hoodie March attendees: “Parris is encouraged by your courage.”
Henry Hearns: “Our mayor sends his regards… he is totally with this.”
Jonathon Ervin and deputies discuss the Hoodie March route
Johnathon Ervin outlines the purpose of the Hoodie March
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