Louisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS) — Racism is officially considered a public health crisis in the city of Louisville. Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order Tuesday during a virtual press conference.

Fischer addressed the unique combination of challenges facing Louisville, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, an increase in gun violence and the protests calling for racial justice and equity.

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Fischer said Breonna Taylor’s death put the city in the spotlight for a deeper look at racial injustice across the nation.

“2020 has been a year like no other but presents an opportunity to turn tragedy into transformation,” Fischer said. “And that begins with creating a city of racial justice and equity.”

Fischer cited the toll of such injustices in the city;

  • The Black poverty rate in Louisville is nearly 3 times the White poverty rate.
  • Black residents make up 22.4 percent of the population but own only 2.4% of the businesses.
  • The percentage of Black residents who own their own homes is half the percentage of White residents.
  • And even among college graduates, the average Black graduate in Louisville earns almost $10,000 less per year than their White colleague.
  • And life expectancy can vary by as much as 12 years between some majority-Black and majority-White neighborhoods.

“For too many Louisvillians, racism is a fact of daily life, a fact that was created and documented in our country’s laws and institutional policies like segregation, redlining, and urban renewal,” he said. “Laws and policies that restrict the freedom of all Americans to exercise their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Laws and policies that can restrict where people live, what schools they attend and what jobs they can get. And laws and policies that effectively limit the wealth they can earn and pass on to their children.”

Members of Fischer’s administration and Metro Council committees previously met to discuss recommending the city declare racism a public health crisis in July. Cities like Indianapolis, Columbus and Memphis have previously declared racism a public health crisis.