Waterbury Human Rights Commission announces proposal to declare racism a public health crisis


WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The Waterbury Human Rights Commission has announced a proposal to declare racism a public health crisis. The announcement comes months after community leaders called on the mayor and lawmakers to take action.

Friday’s announcement came as a shock to some. Many asking, “Why now?” Will Waterbury’s Board of Alders vote this through?

The resolution comes months after summer protests and anger in the Brass City forcing Black and Brown communities to bring this hot topic to a head. Community members say racism exists. The Christopher Columbus statue that stands on Grand Street in downtown Waterbury was beheaded over the summer. Many pushed for it to be taken down following the backlash of Columbus’ history.

Activists also say the rate at which Black and Brown people are arrested in the city is far greater than other communities. Human Rights Commission says, according to the American Public Health Association, racism is a public health crisis across our nation, citing lack of access to quality education, lack of access to training and job opportunity, poverty, infant mortality and more. Waterbury activists reacting to the announcement.

“It’s nice you know that human rights would put a statement out for it and we really do appreciate it but we need the people, we need them to stand side by side with us and show up to the alderman meeting and show up in front of the mayor and have that same energy,” Demetre Coles, Activist Waterbury Strong.

“Other cities even taking down the Christopher Columbus statue and Waterbury is stuck. And they want to stay stuck in the status quo and so forth and so on, the train is moving, get on board or get left behind, or get runover either way, its moving,” Athena Wagner, activist.

This resolution still needs to be voted on by the Board of Alders. Demetre tells us over the summer, only two alderman agreed with making racism a public health crisis. So he’s curious to see where they stand now.

This still needs to be voted on by the board of alders.

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