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Hennepin County Board Passes Resolution Declaring Racism As A Public Health Crisis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution declaring racism to be a public health crisis.

The resolution follows weeks of unrest following the death of George Floyd, who died after a now-fired Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, held a knee down on Floyd's neck for almost eight minutes.

The board of commissioners said Tuesday that Black, Indigenous and other people of color in Hennepin County "statistically have poorer educational outcomes, earn less, and are less likely to own homes or have access to quality health care and jobs than White people."

The board concluded that the net result of these disparities is that minorities have lifelong health impacts, including higher disease rates.

"Year after year after year, we find ourselves as a state and ultimately as the largest county in this state ranking among the worst places to live for Black and Indigenous people. More and more across the country, professionals in the field of public health are saying that we need to name structural racism as the root cause of our work to eliminate disparities," Commissioner Angela Conley said. "We have yet to name racism as one of the root causes of the disparities that we see in the 1.2 million people that we have been elected to serve. And I think it's due time that if we are to address a problem, if we are to address a systemic issue in our county as part of our work, then we have to name what that problem is."

The resolution calls for Hennepin County to, among other things, advocate for policies to improve health outcomes for people of color, support initiatives to dismantle systemic racism, incorporate racism and the public health crisis into budget hearing materials, and to report back to the board in three months about its timeline to make improvements.

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