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Posted on: June 17, 2020

City Council Affirms FCPH Declaration that Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Diversity and Inclusion

The City of Whitehall recognizes that as a local government, and as a community leader, that to be silent on the displays of racism seen in this country over the past few weeks and prior – including the murder of George Floyd among others – is to be complicit. While the City has existing anti-discrimination policies and practices, we can do better both for our organization and for our community. As such, the City has determined the need for further community dialogue and for a number of steps to be taken.

On June 16, City Council unanimously voted in favor of adopting Ordinance No. 049-2020 which affirmed the Franklin County Public Health declaration asserting that racism is a public health crisis. The ordinance also recognizes that black, brown and other people of color live everyday under the unjust burdens of systemic cultural and individual racism and that measurable actions are to be set forth in Whitehall to combat racism.

In support of the ordinance, Councilor Chris Rodriguez shared that: “Over a half century has passed since the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. And yet, still, people of color in America face inequities in health care, education, housing, hiring and otherwise. These inequities occur at all levels of society, and the structures that exist in Central Ohio and more specifically Whitehall are no exception.”

Also in support of the ordinance, Councilor Lori Elmore shared that: “Foremost among our calls to action, now is the time for us all to show love toward one another as we work together for real, meaningful change. This is just the start, but I am proud of the City of Whitehall for taking this step, and am committed to working with the City organizations and community, as we stand against racism in Whitehall.” 

Specifically, the Ordinance No. 049-2020 set forth the following actions:

  • Affirming the declaration made by Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) asserting that racism is a public health crisis affecting the Franklin County community, including the City of Whitehall.
  • Adopting a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity once such a glossary is released by Franklin County Public Health.
  • Training all City of Whitehall staff on implicit biases, including racism, and how to mitigate them.
  • Fostering community conversations, listening intently, and working cooperatively with public safety and the Whitehall community and residents, including black, brown and other people of color.
  • Reviewing community paramedic and police response policies, including use of force, with a racial equality lens and to make changes as needed to promote racial equity, specifically as it relates to and including black, brown and other people of color and utilizing the Safer Whitehall Town meeting discussion and outcomes as a means to address racism in the City of Whitehall and ultimately creating a Civilian Review Board.
  • Encouraging new housing developers in the City of Whitehall to integrate an affordable and/or workforce housing component to ensure that access to safe, affordable housing is attainable to current and prospective Whitehall residents, and especially people of color.
  • Growing the efforts of the Whitehall Community Health Action Team (CHAT), which was established to promote collaboration between community organizations to make Whitehall a healthier community for all residents, and especially people of color.
  • Committing to conduct all Human Resources, vendor selection and grant management activities with a racial equity lens including all internal policies and practices such a hiring, promotions, leadership appointments and funding and being an Equal Opportunity Employer, and recruiting and fostering a diverse workforce in the overall City of Whitehall organization, and especially in the Division of Police and Division of Fire.
  • Establishing alliances and securing adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities including but not limited to cultural competency, implicit bias crisis intervention and de-escalation law enforcement trainings and in the policies, strategies and tactics employed by our safety forces at every point in the justice spectrum.
  • Building stronger alliances with organizations that have a legacy and track record of confronting racism, including with Franklin County Public Health.

Submit Your Comments and Feedback

The City recognizes that adoption of this ordinance is only the beginning. We welcome your feedback and future engagement with us as these actions are implemented. Submit additional questions or feedback, as well as requests to be informed upon the formation of a Citizen Review Board, via our feedback form here >>

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