Two Hennepin County commissioners plan to introduce a resolution this week that would declare racism a “public health crisis.”
Commissioner Angela Conley announced Friday that she will introduce the resolution with Commissioner Irene Fernando during Tuesday’s Board meeting.
“Not only have we known this to be true for many years, we must explicitly state the root causes for the disparities that make Minnesota among the worst places to live for Black people and Indigenous people,” Conley said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“Today, as we celebrate our ancestors, our freedom* and our heritage, let us also look towards the work of dismantling the ever present systemic, institutional and explicit racism that runs through the veins of our society,” she continued, writing “free-ish” next to the asterisk.
Conley noted that at least 11 other counties across the country, including Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, have declared racism a “public health crisis.”
In a statement marking the celebration of Juneteenth, Fernando said that “slavery did not end in this country,” but was “reformed.”
“Through over-policing and an inherently unjust prison system, we continue to capitalize on Black people for free labor in this country. It must stop,” she said.
Slavery did not end in this country, it was reformed. Through over-policing and an inherently unjust prison system, we continue to capitalize on Black people for free labor in this country. It must stop. 3/
— Irene Fernando – Hennepin County Commissioner (@HennepinD2) June 19, 2020
Earlier this month, Fernando and Conley voted to remove the county’s medical examiner because they didn’t like the results of his autopsy in the case of George Floyd. The autopsy revealed that Floyd tested positive for the coronavirus, had fentanyl and meth in his blood, and had a number of underlying health conditions.
The two commissioners said Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker’s autopsy did “irreparable damage to the Black community.”
“This is yet another reason people who look like me do not trust the justice system to bring justice to us. We are too often criminalized by the way we look while living and even in death,” Conley said after voting against reinstating Baker.
Conley and Fernando were among the first state leaders to call for the “immediate arrest” of all four officers involved in the alleged murder of Floyd. Both represent portions of Minneapolis on the Board of Commissioners.
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