Hillsborough commissioners approve resolution declaring racism public health crisis

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A resolution approved by Hillsborough County commissioners Wednesday declares racism a public health crisis and lays out ways to try to eradicate it from the community.

Commissioners adopted the resolution during a virtual meeting. It highlights a ten-point action plan.

Some of the steps include promoting and supporting policies that prioritize the health of all people, especially people of color. It promotes racial equality training with the goal of reaching all county commissioners, county leadership and staff.

It was put forth by Commissioner Pat Kemp and comes at a time when racial tensions are high in America.

Tampa Rev. Anthony White of the Bible Based Fellowship Church helped with the resolution.

“As you know, a public health crisis is when the problem affects large numbers of people, threatens health over a long term and requires the adoption of large scale solutions,” Rev. White said during the meeting.

Commissioner Les Miller also thinks solutions are needed. He shared his own experiences of racism as a lifelong resident and elected leader of the county.

“I have been racially profiled,” Miller said. “I have been racially profiled as recently as a year and a half ago. I’m a county commissioner.”

8 On Your Side talked to Tampa residents who welcome the resolution, but acknowledge change takes time.

“We’ve been in this country for a while, so just overnight, there’s no way you can flip a switch and things are gonna change,” said Rodney Washington, a resident and local realtor.

The resolution seeks to find solutions to inequality in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system.

“We can never achieve true fairness and justice in our system as long as there are racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” said Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.

Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne M. Holt also spoke.

In early September, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the city is moving forward as a more compassionate and inclusive community and said we must acknowledge past discrimination.

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