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Common Council to consider federal act declaring racism a public health crisis

Posted at 4:41 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 17:41:16-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Common Council will consider a resolution that would express the city's support for federal legislation that declares racism a public health crisis nationally in a meeting Tuesday.

The federal legislation is called the 'Anti-Racism in Public Health Act of 2020.' Tuesday's file is sponsored by Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, while the federal legislation was introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D - Mass.).

This is not the first time Milwaukee lawmakers have passed such a resolution. In May of 2019, the Milwaukee Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that declared racism a public health crisis in the county.

The national act would do two things: it would create a National Center for Anti-Racism within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop anti-racist federal health policies. The act would further create programs within the CDC’s Center for Injury Prevention and Control focused on preventing violence by law enforcement.

“This year communities of color have seen significant negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and continued instances of police brutality. To fully address these issues, and issues that will arise in the future, we must take a stand to declare racism a public health crisis that contributes to shorter life expectancy and worse health outcomes for minority citizens," according to Alderwoman Coggs in a statement.

The County Board's resolution last year sought to do several things:

  • Assess internal policies and procedures to make sure racial equity is a core element
  • Work to create an inclusive organization and identify specific activities to increase diversity
  • Incorporate inclusion and equity, and offer educational training to expand employees' understanding of how racism affects people
  • Advocate for policies that improve health in communities of color
  • Encourage other local, state and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis

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