Racism declared public health crisis in Pierce County

Protesters in Tacoma show support for Manuel "Manny" Ellis after an autopsy report was released following his death after being arrested on March 3rd, 2020 by Tacoma Police. (photo: KOMO News)

The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health voted to declare racism a public health crisis.

In a press release about the vote, the TPC Health Department states, "The COVID-19 pandemic and the legacy of racism are ongoing public health concerns."

The decision to declare racism a public health crisis is connected in part to the recent police involved deaths of black men, Manuel Ellis in Tacoma on March 3rd, George Floyd on May 26th in Minneapolis and Rayshard Brooks on June 12th in Atlanta.

According to the department's press release, the agency will re-examine internal policies and practices that increase disparities linked solely to race. Therefore the local health department will:

  • Assess internal policies and procedures to address and reform structures and processes that contribute to race-based decisions and actions.
  • Partner with the community to co-create solutions.
  • Promote policy and system-level changes within Pierce County to move beyond equity only and undo racist structures.

The anti-racism work will come from existing funds and does not receive CARES Act funding, according to the TPC Health Department.

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