NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — New London is the latest city to declare racism a public health crisis, according to a newly released report from the City Council.
This week, the City Council met to discuss various items including if racism should be considered a public health crisis. The group voted in favor of the declaration, which can be seen on page four of the document released.
Hamden Board of Aldermen made the same resolution Tuesday.
Colchester recently declared racism a public health crisis. Their board of selectmen met Thursday evening. This comes after several Connecticut cities and towns made the declaration in the last few weeks.
The First Selectman of Colchester used her independent authority to sign a proclamation to declare racism a public health crisis Thursday.
But not every member was on board. Fireworks during their Board of Selectmen meeting where members clashed over creating a Committee for Diversity and Inclusion.
One member against the declaration saying, “You’re generalizing our community and I have issue with that. I’ve lived here almost all my life and I haven’t seen anything that would lead me to believe that Colchester has a health crisis. Can anyone here tell me what the percentage of our population that is racist?”
Another member in support of the declaration, Vice Chair Rosemary Coyle, saying, “I don’t see it as calling our town racist. I see it as bringing people together…Because inclusion and diversity are about bringing people together, understanding the issues, working together, making towns and communities better. That’s how I view it, that’s why I made the motion.”
The motion to create a Commission for Diversity and Inclusion ultimately passed 4-1.
“This particular committee would contain about nine people from different areas of the town: Board of Selectmen, education, social services, law enforcement, parent, youth, community member, and clergy. I think this would be a good representation of people, help define what our commission would look like,” explained Denise Turner of Colchester Board of Selectmen.
The board, once the commission is approved, says they would put out a call of applicants to become part of it. Although they want to get this commission together quickly, the application process may take a while.
The resolution passed 9-0 at the Manchester Board of Directors meeting Tuesday evening. This resolution comes just weeks after three Black teens were chased down by two white men in an alleged hate crime attack. This declaration now sets the tone for the work residents demand take place in the town they call home.
Town leaders tell News 8, Manchester is fighting two pandemics: COVID-19 and racism. And Tuesday night, new steps are being taken to support efforts to dismantle racist systems in place and support communities to ensure all people – regardless of the color of their skin – feel welcomed and supported.
Pamela Floyd-Cranford of the Manchester Board of Directors said ahead of the vote Tuesday, “When those young children were being terrorized, chased down the street by two adult white men. When those men were yelling racial slurs at these children just because they were walking and riding down the street – that was a reflection of America for some of us. That was our America for some of us. When you stand in the seat of white privilege, you may not be able to comprehend. And that is why when you sit in the seat of white privilege, you can say ‘the time is not right,’ but this is not your time. This is our time. This is communities of color’s time.”
“Black people are suffering financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, educationally. We are dying. And if you don’t do this today, the blood isn’t on our hands, it’s on your hands,” Keren Prescott, Power Up Manchester.
In Windham, the resolution passed in Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting. Under their resolution, they promise to promote equality through all policies approved by the Town Council and improve education efforts aimed at understanding and ending racism.
The issue was on the agenda for Monday, July 6’s Board of Alder’s virtual meeting in New Haven. The declaration was approved unanimously during the meeting.
Middletown voted unanimously to (12-0) approve the declaration Monday, as well.
Milford is also considering a similar resolution.
On June 24, New Britain officials joined other Connecticut towns and cities in declaring racism as a public health crisis. The vote was unanimous from the City Council.
“I have dealt with racism and I understand how it has affected me personally, so I am really glad that we are putting forth this resolution,” said New Britain Alderman Ivan Osborn Wednesday.
On June 23, West Hartford officially voted in favor of that declaration. The Town Council met for hours virtually to vote on the resolution. It claims communities of color are more likely to suffer from health issues because of racism impacting all areas of life. Those areas range from economic stability to access to healthcare.
“Justice is needed for Black people and the time is now,” Councilwoman Carol Blanks said. “We can no longer continue and pretend that it’s not happening…It’s emotional, it’s psychological, it impacts health. Studies have led to cardiovascular disease, a high proportionate rate in the Black and brown community for diabetes, premature heart attacks. I can go on and on.”
Following Windsor‘s unanimous call to declare racism a public health crisis, other towns and cities in Connecticut are stepping up to do the same. Hartford and Bloomfield met Monday to consider similar resolutions to oppose racism. Both made the declaration Monday evening.
But those governments that moved in this direction say this is not just symbolic. They say it has policy implications.
Windsor takes pride in being the first town in Connecticut, so when the Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health emergency, officials said they wanted it to set an example for all 169 cities and towns.
At least ten local governments across the country have moved in this direction. They say the police brutality and COVID-19 impact on minority communities are interrelated. Advocates say these orders demonstrate a commitment to advancing racial equity, including health disparities.
WEB EXTRA: Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., PH.D. of UConn Heath speaks to racism as a public health crisis and disparities in healthcare