Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) said Wednesday that the city will declare racism a public health emergency, months after Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of police fueled unrest there.
The stain of racial injustice for centuries has led to systemic inequities, Fischer told The Washington Post, including worse health outcomes for Black Americans compared with Whites and vast differences in access to wealth and education.
The declaration, he said, would usher in resources — such as greater access to housing, health care, tutoring and other services — paired with a conversation about inequality.
“The moment is right to learn more about these things, especially White America,” Fischer said.
Louisville has been rocked since the March death of Taylor, a Black woman, when officers fatally shot her in bed after executing a search warrant for a man who was already in police custody. Taylor’s name electrified protests of police brutality nationwide, echoing with the name of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May.
Taylor’s killing opened the aperture of discussion about racism in the city, Fischer said.
“People are much more ready to listen and learn about the history of our country in terms of institutional racism and racism as a public health emergency,” he said.
Louisville would join dozens of cities and counties that have made similar declarations. Fischer said the formal plan would be unveiled in the coming weeks in a joint effort with the Louisville Metro Council.
“The time has come for a community-wide discussion about how we could correct racism as a public health problem. All of us have come in contact with some form of discrimination in our lives,” council member Barbara Shanklin said in a statement. “For many people, it causes stress and worry as you try to work, raise a family or just try to get ahead in life.”