Indianapolis City-County Council declares racism a public health crisis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The City-County Council on Monday night unanimously approved a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis in Marion County.

Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, commended the council’s action.

“This is a first great step, but it is a beginning, and I’m looking forward to the City-County Council to come back with some concrete recommendations that can really help address this issue. Not just the symptoms, but how do we get to it systemically.”

Council members called the action historic. It came after days of rallies by people who have peacefully marched and cried out and, in some cases, violently rioted. The goal: racial justice and an end to police brutality in Indianapolis.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked aspiring neurosurgeon Jai Horsey to protest in Indianapolis just days ago. His sign asked, “Am I next?”

“I’ve felt this way ever since I was a child. My mother and brother-in-law had to sit me down and explain to me what it means to be a black man in America,” the medical student said.

Last week, he joined hundreds of health care workers, doctors and medical students who rallied in Indianapolis to call systemic racism a public health crisis.

Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, said in a video conference Monday before the resolution’s passage, “It is indeed a public health crisis, and it’s among the very top of the list.”

Vop Osili, the City-County-Council president, said on News 8’s “Daybreak” Monday morning, “We’re calling on all city and county departments to continue with amazing urgency, a review of policies and procedures to eradicate implicit and explicit bias that we put in place, that may have been put in place that have built towards this sort of racial inequity.”

The fight for racial justice is why hundreds of people, including Darian Bouin, pastor of Progressive Baptist Church, had a die-in on May 31 just steps from the City-County Building.

“God is for social justice. There is no way that you can justify doing wrong to anybody regardless of the color of their skin, their creed, their educational background or sexual orientation,” Bouin has said.