Dayton City Commission joins county commission in declaring racism a public health crisis

DAYTON — UPDATE @ 8:30 p.m.: The Dayton City Commission voted Wednesday evening to declare racism a public health crisis.

The vote follows one taken Tuesday by the Montgomery County Commissioners, which passed a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis.

“I am very proud of this commission to take a position on public health crisis in regards to racism,” city Commissioner Jeffery Mims Jr. said. “And I think It’s a very important step and it sends the right message.”

Commissioner Darryl Fairchild said, “we will be charting new territory. While we are not responsible for the creation of racism, we are responsible in this moment with a choice to maintain, or interrupt it and eradicate it. I’m glad we are making a choice to interrupt it and eradicate it.”

Both measures are in reaction to the demand for change that has arisen from protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

Bishop Richard Cox, with the Clergy Community Coalition, chided the city commission’s resolution as words on a piece of paper.

“We want action,” he said. “Our community is dying in the midst of a pandemic.”

Coalition members, who had gathered outside Dayton City Hall, told News Center 7′s Monica Castro they hope the declaration is more than just talk. Cox said the community is suffering in the area of healthcare after the closing of Good Samaritan Hospital in 2018.

Coalition member Nancy Kiehl said, “this closure of this hospital and demolition was the most racist, criminal act ... the county and city are complicit.”

Premier Health has said the number of empty beds and the high cost of operating the hospital were part of the reasoning behind the closing.

Coalition members said they want the city or county to put a hospital in Good Sam’s place.

Montgomery County identifies racism as a root cause of poverty, negative social determinants of health, and overall poor health outcomes, the county commissioners said in a prepared statement. Racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, economic opportunity, infant mortality, employment, food access, and criminal justice, the county commissioners said.

“We want to make it explicitly clear that we are against racism and inequality in any form,” county commission President Judy Dodge said Tuesday.

The resolution outlines several commitments and actions such as addressing safe, affordable housing opportunities in the Black community and development of a new stand-alone “Career and Innovation Center” at the Westown Shopping Center on West Third Street in Dayton.

To read the full resolution, visit the Commission’s website.