MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution Friday declaring racism as a public health emergency.
The resolution, penned by council members Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham, declares that racism impacts outcomes in many areas of life for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); it is the root cause of inequities in housing, education, health, employment, public safety, and criminal justice.
“It’s past time that we begin to address these systemic issues that have been plaguing our society for decades,” said Jenkins. “Naming this issue allows us to begin to dismantle its structures moving forward.”
According to the resolution, Minneapolis has some of the “starkest racial inequities in the country,”and ranks as one of the worst regions for racial disparities in home ownership, median income, and the ability to obtain a high school diploma.
It also highlights studies which demonstrate that Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police as white people in the United States. The killings of unarmed Black men – like that George Floyd on Memorial Day – lead to an increase in depression in the Black community.
The resolution now allows the city council and Mayor Jacob Frey to recognize the impact racism has on the community members of Minneapolis.
It also gives examples of action steps policymakers have pledged to take in order to combat racial inequities.
One of the biggest points addresses Minneapolis’ criminal justice system. Policymakers have committed to reserving arrest only for violent and major crimes and have pledged to dismiss the cash bail system.
They have also vowed to allocate portions of the city budget towards small business development and affordable housing for BIPOC.
“Racism is the underlying disease to all of the racially inequitable results we are living with today,” said Cunningham. “This action is the first step in long overdue restorative measures for our BIPOC community. The passing of this resolution means that we as local elected officials understand that antiracism must be centered in all that we do as we work to ensure that Minneapolis is at the forefront of achieving racial equity.”
A petition to declare racism as a public health emergency has also been posted and signed by more than 110,000 people.