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Louisville declares racism a ‘public health crisis’; Democratic mayor vows to ‘reimagine public safety’

Louisville, Kentucky, has officially declared racism a “public health crisis.”

What are the details?

Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, signed an executive order Tuesday — which was headlined “Advancing Racial Equity for Black Louisville” — making the declaration official. The development comes after racial unrest struck the Kentucky city this summer following the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March as they executed a no-knock warrant at her home.

“This order lays out in stark terms the societal, economic, physical and mental health impacts of racism on not just Black Louisville, but all the people of our city,” Fischer said, The Hill reported.

“Of course, we can’t change America by ourselves, but we can show America how a city can change itself,” he added. “We can channel the energy from the pain we’ve experienced and take ourselves from tragedy to transformation.”

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The plan states:

In light of the tragic death of Breonna Taylor and recognizing the imperative need to address the impacts of racism and dismantle systemic racism, Mayor Greg Fischer is issuing an executive order declaring racism as a public health crisis to acknowledge and address the societal, physical and mental health impacts on Black residents and all Louisvillians. In addition, the Mayor is pursuing a robust state legislative agenda that includes
changes to promote transparency and accountability in police-involved disciplinary matters, equity initiatives,
bail reform and voting rights.

Specifically, Fischer’s plan outlines seven goals. The Democratic mayor wants to “reimagine public safety,” “build black wealth,” and “address the health impacts of racism,” among other policy initiatives.

“For too many Louisvillians racism is a fact of daily life, a fact that was created and documented in our country’s laws and institutional policies like segregation, redlining and urban renewal,” Fischer said, WLKY-TV reported.

He also said, “[R]eal life experiences tell us our systems are more than broken. They must be dismantled and replaced.”

Anything else?

Dozens of cities, counties, and even whole states have declared racism a public health issue, according to the American Public Health Association.

Democratic lawmakers — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Barbara Lee (Calif.) — even introduced legislation earlier this year that would declare racism a nationwide health crisis.

“It is time we start treating structural racism like we would treat any other public health problem or disease: investing in research into its symptoms and causes and finding ways to mitigate its effects,” Sen. Warren said of the legislation.

Pressley added, “For far too long, our federal government has failed to recognize and address the structural racism that has devastated Black and brown communities and denied access to quality health care.”

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