CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- In a unanimous vote, the Chicopee City Council passed a resolution to declare racism in the public health crisis in the city, according to a statement from Councilor Joel McAuliffe.
The vote was 13-0 and the resolution was authored by McAuliffe, according to the statement.
“This is a momentous occasion in the City of Chicopee,” McAuliffe said in the statement. “Tonight we affirmed that Black Lives Matter and declared what data proves -- that racism is a public health crisis.”
McAuliffe said he attended local demonstrations and consulted with local organizers, including Melaica Delgado, Chicopee Black Lives Matter March organizer and city resident; Jeannette Rivera, a Community Organizer and Chicopee resident; and Johnny Miranda, an activist, Chicopee resident and local business owner, before bringing the resolution to the council, according to the statement.
“This is a day of progress in our city,” McAuliffe said in the statement. “It is a testament to the work done by organizers in our community to bring us together. It's an important first step, but the work is yet not done.”
The text in the resolution confronts the effects of systemic racism on the social determinants of health, such as “access to educational attainment, healthy nutrition, gainful employment, a clean environment, and healthcare,” according to the statement.
Research has shown that people of color, even if they live in the same community and earn the same income as their white counterparts, have unequal access to the social determinants of health, according to the statement.
According to the statement, the resolution says Black, Latino and Native populations suffer greater rates of diabetes, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health afflictions and other diseases that significantly reduce their life expectancy.
The resolution also discusses systemic racism in law enforcement, including the increased stress, anxiety and PTSD faced by communities of color due to fear and distrust of the police, according to the statement.
The resolution touched on law enforcement accountability and community programs for equal opportunity which is intended to promote trust, safety and justice for both police officers and communities of color, according to the statement.
Councilor James Tillotson discussed the place of the resolution in American history saying that many issues around racial justice have continued in spite of steps forward.
“We have to recommit,” he said, to “peace and justice throughout Chicopee and throughout the country.”