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County Supervisors Fletcher, Vargas ask board to declare racism a public health crisis

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 20:45:04-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Board of Supervisor Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Nora Vargas say they will ask the board to declare racism a public health crisis.

The two supervisors, joined by community leaders and racial justice advocates, announced they will bring a resolution and policy before the board next week.

By declaring racism a public health crisis, Fletcher says the county will then be able to require the use of racial and equity data to prioritize funding; create a process for community input on county policies and practices; and revise the statement of values, mission, and vision to ensure inclusion and equity are core principles of our county government.

“In declaring racism as a public health crisis, we are acknowledging that racism underpins the health inequities throughout the region,” said Fletcher. “So much of the division we face as a society is the result of intentional government policies put in place to perpetuate systemic racism. The only way you address it is to come back with intentional government policies designed to dismantle the barriers of oppression and move toward equality of opportunity and access for Black and brown people. This resolution and these policies are an important step toward creating a better future for all San Diegans.”

One advocate, Laila Aziz, Director of Operations at Pillars of the Community, described how our nation's past set barriers in front of Black Americans today.

"I come from a people who, our original interaction with the police was through slave patrols in the South." Laila said this is why there is police brutality today.

"The pandemic raised broader public awareness of these inequities and made them worse," Norma Chavez-Peterson, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union San Diego and Imperial Counties, said Wednesday.

When ABC 10News asked Fletcher why this resolution was not presented sooner, he replied in part, "Over the last two years I think that we made progress but the composition of the board was very different."

Vargas added, "We need to change county government from the inside to ensure that our communities have access to the services and the resources that are rightfully theirs."

Vargas urged the public to sign their petition and hold the board accountable moving forward.

The vote is expected to be held during a Jan. 12 Board of Supervisors meeting.