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Salt Lake City mayor declares racism a public health crisis

A view of the Salt Lake City-County Building from the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City mayor Erin Mendenhall declares racism a public health crisis.  A press release announced the City Council adopted a joint resolution Tuesday which outlines the effect racism has on the mental and physical health of communities of color. 

Why mayor decided racism is a public health crisis

“This is an important declaration for us to make as a city. Not only are we publicly acknowledging the existence of a grave inequity that many in our community have known and experienced for so long, we are also committing ourselves to the creation of policies and ordinances that are anti-racist,” Mayor Mendenhall said.

The resolution commits that as the city continues its work going forward, it will continue to be critical about the policies and ordinances created. They said their goal is to ensure they do not add to the compounding of inequities and work to undo damage previous policies may have had in previous years.

The declaration was initially proposed by the city’s Human Rights Coalition and the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing

Impacts of racism

The statement goes on to explain that racism directly impacts access to numerous everyday resources, including education, housing, employment, and healthcare. The cascading effects are known to result in negative outcomes for physical and mental health.

 

This statement also addressed that over the course of the pandemic, the impacts of racism on public health and the heavier burden on the City’s communities of color have been well documented.

According to the press release,  Council Chair Amy Fowler agreed the issue needs to be addressed. “There is no doubt of the crisis. Our society is burdened with bigotry and all the hatred that comes with it.”  

 

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