Fayetteville declares racism a public health crisis, minority groups respond

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"We as an immigrant community have been desperately looking for hope in politics and we don't always find it, but last night we did."

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The City of Fayetteville declares racism as a public health crisis.

“We as an immigrant community have been desperately looking for hope in politics and we don’t always find it, but last night we did,” said Mireya Reith, the founding executive director for Arkansas United.

Arkansas United is one of the organizations who endorsed the racism as a public health crisis resolution.

Reith said, “African American women do not get the same treatment from the public health care system as their peers from other race groups.”

D’Andre Jones with the African American Advisory Council spoke on behalf of the resolution.

He said, “Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women and black men are more than twice as likely to be killed by police than white men.”

While every single Fayetteville City Council member voted in favor of passing the resolution, one public comment didn’t have the same sentiment.

Peter Tonnessen, who opposed resolution, said “I don’t believe there is systemic racism. I haven’t seen it in my own life.”

To Reith, racism has led to very obvious health disparities.

“We have documented cases of immigrants who have been turned away from testing because individuals at those clinics suggested that our immigrants did not have status and could be denied basic health services which is actually against the law,” she said.

Now that the resolution has been passed unanimously, she said it’s time to get to work.

“Now it’s on the city council and those of us who call the City of Fayetteville home to now bring that resolution into action,” said Reith.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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