SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) — The City of Santee is on a mission to promote unity and diversity and the hope is, their hard work will help erase a negative perception the city has received.
"People came to Santee, and one person wore a KKK hood while doing his shopping in a supermarket," says David Shoney, who is a member of the Santee Collaborative.
Jessica Edwards, who is also apart of the Santee Collaborative remembers when her parents didn't want her to go to Santee.
"I grew up hearing Santee being refereed to as Klantee," Edwards said.
It's a label and perception the city is trying to distance itself from.
"The Klantee label makes many of us who live in this city feel ashamed to be associated with that type of image," says collaborative member Steve Stelman.
So in order to rid themselves of the awful perception, the Santee Collaborative has launched a new campaign to educate people about Santee's changing demographics.
"The message we want to get out to the community would be we would be richer and stronger if we could come together, and rid ourselves of any hate," said collaborative member Arnold Saltzman.
As their first step in getting the message out, unity banners have been placed on both sides of Mission Gorge Rd.
"Our hope is that these banners will be the stepping stone to reaching that initiative of making Santee more inclusive," says collaborative member Rozana Beluts. "And that the symbols of love and unity must outweigh the symbols of hate."
And besides the banners, community forums will also be held.
"To engage the community, not only around the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion but also what kind of values represent Santee," said Shoney.
Santee wants to erase the negative image that's been placed on the city and replace it with something that really reflects the members of the community.