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Clark County to consider resolution declaring racism health crisis

Updated October 28, 2020 - 2:25 pm

Clark County commissioners this week will consider declaring systemic racism a public health crisis, intensified by the pandemic and “causing the single most profound economic and social challenge” facing the county and state.

The resolution, which is expected to be considered on Tuesday, would mirror one passed by the Legislature in August.

“It starts with an acknowledgement” that racism is an issue, said Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who requested that county lawmakers vote on the resolution.

The idea is to “bring awareness of an existing problem that many are uncomfortable talking about or choose not to talk about,” he said Wednesday. “We’re at a point now where enough is enough.”

Like with the state resolution, passage would be symbolic. But Weekly said the county intends to set an example that there is zero tolerance for racism in its workplace and, once the pandemic is controlled and a sense of normalcy is restored, he envisioned that public officials can mull other anti-racist efforts.

By passing the resolution, the county would affirm that it supports initiatives to address and dismantle systemic racism and its effects in a broad range of areas, including social services, economic development and public safety, according to a copy of the resolution.

The resolution also highlights that the pandemic has disproportionately affected minorities, pointing to racial and ethnic disparities in the health care system and a digital divide.

During the peak of the crisis, the city of North Las Vegas had the nation’s highest death rate among the Black population (66 percent), according to the resolution, which says that the Clark County School District’s distance-learning model also particularly hurts minority communities, where lack of internet connectivity is more prevalent.

Minorities comprise about 62 percent of the county’s population, according to the resolution.

In September, North Las Vegas adopted a nearly identical resolution, joining a growing number of jurisdictions across the U.S. that are choosing to declare systemic racism to be a public health crisis.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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