Mayor Fischer declares racism a public health crisis

Mayor Fischer declares racism a public health crisis
Louisville mayor Greg Fischer (Source: Louisville Metro Government)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order declaring racism a public health crisis on Tuesday.

The executive order addresses seven key factors the Mayor’s Office cites as the city’s racial equity challenges, which include public safety, children and families, Black employment, Black wealth, housing and neighborhood investment, health and voting.

Local activists reacted cautiously to the announcement.

“All seven of these points hit directly on what is, in my opinion, lacking in Louisville,” said Milly Martin, CEO of a racial equity company called Milly On The Watch. “But again, it’s all about making sure that we, as leaders, we kind of stay on that.”

An Advancing Racial Equality for Black Louisville action plan lists steps including recruiting a police chief to build a culture of guardianship and corresponding budget reallocation, implementing findings from the Louisville Metro Police Department review, investing in youth capacity and job readiness and assisting small Black-owned businesses with access to capital and support.

The decision to make the order was made “in light of the tragic death of Breonna Taylor and recognizing the imperative need to address the impacts of racism and dismantle systemic racism.”

“But I am a little bit leery simply because we’ve heard this kind of language before,” Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center Founder Timothy Findley Jr. said. “But again, I try to be optimistic, but we don’t want Band-Aids.”

Some of Fischer’s specific goals include spending millions of dollars promoting black business and home ownership, and support for a federal commission to study reparations for African Americans.

”As mayor, and just as an American and a human being, this racism sickens me,” Fischer said. “Just like every other institution, at city government we have to own our history. All of it, the proud, the painful. And we have to take responsibility for addressing its direct impact on the people of our city.”

A key part of Fischer’s proposed actions is reimagining public safety with a new police chief, and what is described as a culture of guardianship at LMPD that would include a reallocation of funds to new priorities. Some reforms will require approval from the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

“Let’s be clear, these reforms will need support from all across our community,” Fischer said. “We will need advocates in Frankfort in the next session that includes changes to promote transparency and accountability in police-involved disciplinary matters and advance racial equity initiatives including bail reform and voting rights.”

This story will be updated.

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