City Council declares racism public health emergency in Minneapolis, commits to action steps

The Minneapolis City Council has declared racism a public health emergency in the city. 

Friday, the City Council approved a resolution declaring racism a public health emergency and outlining a series of action steps the city will take towards racial equity. The resolution comes in the wake of the death of George Floyd and civil unrest in the city. 

The resolution notes that, “racism in all its forms causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, health, employment, public safety and criminal justice; exacerbated further by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.” 

The resolution also commits the City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to recognize the “the severe impact of racism on the well-being of residents and city overall and allocate funding, staff, and additional resources to actively engage in racial equity in order to name, reverse, and repair the harm done to BIPOC” in the city. 

These are some of the action steps the city has committed to: 

  • Center the voices, work, and leadership of the communities most directly affected by said racism.
  • Provide support to the Racial Equity Community Advisory Committee to conduct and implement an internal evaluation of the City Charter as well as all City policies and procedures to prioritize racial equity with specification on how policies translate into anti-racist action towards City employees, constituents, and community members.
  • Address our criminal justice system to stop the profiling and harm done to BIPOC. This includes but is not limited to decarceration and reserving arrest only for violent and other major crimes and easing and dismissing cash bail.
  • Build and implement a comprehensive public safety system that decentralizes BIPOC over-policing and criminalization and is rooted in the public health approach to keep BIPOC communities disproportionately impacted by community violence safe. 
  • Develop a comprehensive rapid response protocol to immediate needs and long-term work to address systemic inequities. This includes activating the Office of Emergency Management and Incident Command System, the Health Department, the Division of Race & Equity, and other public facing departments to respond to community stress and trauma.
  • Measure the effectiveness of City programming and the return on investment of public dollar allocations in the budget toward advancing racial equity and reporting these results annually.
  • Allocate dollars in the City budget to be directed toward small business development, housing, community-based infrastructure, and other amenities to reverse and repair the harm experienced by BIPOC. This includes making land and housing affordable for BIPOC, prioritizing BIPOC in redevelopment efforts, and ensuring that these communities are not displaced in neighborhood revitalization efforts. 
  • Establish a long-term sustainable source of City of Minneapolis funding that will restore and increase the availability of high-quality youth development programming for BIPOC youth and young adults with inclusion of a strategic plan to improve program quality and evaluate the impact and reach. 
  • Develop and implement an annual report with racially disaggregated data on the health of Minneapolis BIPOC, including recommendations for actions to eliminate any disparities and improve overall health. 
  • Build a workplace culture that promotes racialized repair, cross-cultural relationships, upholds the sacredness of caucus spaces for building community, and shifts the burden of addressing racism off BIPOC.