Support Statement and Action Steps and Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

June 2, 2020

A coalition of African American government, nonprofit and religious leaders has coalesced with the aim of issuing a call for immediate action. They have developed an initial agenda to reform practices that reinforce systemic racism in Central Ohio.

The coalition includes: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty; Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce; Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin; Former Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman; Christie Angel, CEO, YWCA; Stephanie Hightower, President & CEO, Columbus Urban League; Bishop Timothy Clarke, First Church of God; and, Pastor Victor Davis, Trinity Baptist Church.

The following is their collective statement. We ask that you show your support.
Statement and Action Steps

“Just as is true with COVID19, recent events demand that our community face down the evil that is racism. We stand at a critical juncture. Our choices today determine the collective legacy we leave for tomorrow.

“While unintended bias may seem nearly imperceptible and engrained, our path forward is surprisingly simple and clear. It starts with a genuine willingness to embrace real change, change that challenges to reexamine our most unspoken rationalization sand our most self-deceptive judgments. Nothing less than our collective future lies at stake.

“In that spirit, we’ve crafted an initial reform agenda. Many of these ideas are not new. Some have languished for years because of a lack of will to remain steadfast in a sustained effort to overcome opposition and inertia.

“We welcome every ally, and we will build any bridge to nurture partnerships. But, hear us now, we cannot and will not relent. Together, we will foster a more respectful, diverse community where the blessings of opportunity are equally available to everyone.”

The coalition’s key action steps include:

• Recruit and embrace support from throughout the public, nonprofit and private sectors throughout Central Ohio.

• Government, business, and nonprofit leaders ask the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9,  the union representing most law enforcement personnel in Central Ohio, to come to the table to begin working on police reform.

• Call to implement the recommendations put forth in the Matrix Report as well as the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission Report. This effort will launch with four high priority objectives: designating an independent investigatory authority to review police use of force; revising and updating police crowd dispersal techniques; improving the quality and depth of cultural competency and racial equity training among all public-serving agencies; and setting a timeline to execute the other recommendations in both reports.

• Advocate that Governor DeWine, Ohio Senate President Obhof and Ohio Speaker Householder to emulate the leadership of Franklin County and the City of Columbus and declare racism as a public health crisis.

• Join with County and City leaders as they propose solutions to address health disparities stemming from racial inequities.

• Directly communicate with people of color and those who often don’t follow or trust mainstream media.

• Cultivate and respond to the ideas and concerns of young leadership.

The coalition already is at work reaching out to potential partners and allies. It will begin recruiting supporters to #WeWillNotRelent & #OnAMission.
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