County Democrats declare racism a public health crisis

By Glenn Battishill -

The Delaware County Democratic Party is hoping the Delaware County Board of Commissioners and Gov. Mike DeWine will join it in declaring racism a public health crisis.

The party approved the resolution on July 23 during its monthly executive committee meeting. The resolution declares that racism is “a social system with multiple dimensions,” including individual racism and systemic racism.

“Whereas, systemic racism is a root cause of poverty and constricts economic mobility, negatively impacting health care, criminal justice, education, housing, employment, food and nutrition and many more issues that determine health outcomes,” the resolution states.

The resolution also states racism has made the COVID-19 outbreak even worse for African Americans.

“…At this critical inflection point in american history, African Americans are confronting two crises — the coronavirus and police brutality — that are disproportionately impacting their community and bringing racial injustice to the forefront with peaceful demonstration in cities and small towns in every state and around the globe,” the resolution says.

The resolution then calls on leaders to recognize racism and to enact changes to provide equity to all.

“Now therefore be it resolved that the Delaware County Democratic Party Executive Committee recognizes that structural and systemic racism is embedded and entrenched in every aspect of our nation, declares unequivocally that racism is a public health crisis and calls on Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio’s legislative leaders, and the Delaware County commissioners to join in our declaration and enact equity in all state and county policies,” the resolution says.

The resolution adds that many governing bodies in Ohio, including the Franklin County commissioners and Westerville City Council, “have considered or will consider” similar resolutions.

The party’s resolution concludes with a commitment from the party to combat systemic racism by lobbying elected legislative bodies, writing letters to publications and officials, and providing testimony as appropriate.

Andre Washington, co-chair of the ad hoc committee tasked to draft this resolution and a longtime member of the Delaware County Democratic Party, stated in a press release after the resolution was passed that he is encouraged by the county’s growing diversity and how it’s represented in party membership.

“Our membership represents a rich cross-section of our communities with participants of various ages, races, faith traditions, types of families, educational backgrounds and economic statuses,” Washington said. He added that equity and fairness across the board would make our communities even stronger.

The party said racism has “long been a serious problem since our nation’s inception,” but Delaware County Democratic Party Chair Peg Watkins said in a release last week that the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has “energized” civil rights leaders and their supporters to demand meaningful change.

“What happened to George Floyd was a public lynching in front of civilian witnesses who helplessly watched for eight minutes and 46 seconds as a police officer killed him,” Watkins said. “Those present were no doubt fearful of getting so involved they might be accused of interfering with police business and could be subjected to dire consequences themselves.”

By Glenn Battishill

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.