WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Warren City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis.
At their meeting Wednesday night, council agreed to take any additional steps needed to move forward with working on the effects racism has had within the city.
“We will be initiating a racism task force dealing with racial disparities in the City of Warren,” said 6th Ward Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold.
The racism task force will be made up of individuals from Warren who are appointed by city council.
The group will look at issues such as employment, education, health care, housing and crime.
“It will be a five-year plan and we will ask them to address city council periodically in reference to their suggestions, and identifying problems and resolving those issues,” Saffold said.
During the discussion on Wednesday, Mayor Doug Franklin talked about his personal experience of living in Warren as a Black man.
“When I was young, I didn’t understand some of the trauma that was being placed on me. Whether it was where I live, whether if it was next to the steel mill, a victim of environmental racism or the projects, per se,” he said.
Councilwoman at Large Helen Rucker, who is also a Warren native, explained how long-term trauma can affect a Black person’s health. She said she believes it is time to move forward.
“That’s what this piece is. It doesn’t bring any money, per se, to us, but it does examine us and ask us to be responsible and to look within ourselves and tackle that issue of racism,” Rucker said.
Saffold did not give a timetable on when members would be named to the task force but said she wants to put it into effect immediately.