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Summit County Council Racism Report Recommends Review Committee

Elizabeth Walters and Veronica Sims
Summit County Councilwoman Veronica Sims, right, worked on the report about racism as a public health crisis with Council President Elizabeth Walters, left, who was chosen last week to lead the Ohio Democratic Party.

Summit County’s declaration that racism is a public health crisis has taken on new resonance in the wake of the attempted coup this month at the U.S. Capitol.

The declaration came last summer, and officials delivered a report in December on how to address systemic racism. Some of the recommendations include developing data collection standards for all county offices to help them better understand the people they serve and increasing training for staff.

Councilwoman Veronica Sims helped prepare the report. She says the events of earlier this month show how important it is to address criminal justice reform when dealing with racism as a public health crisis.

“Certainly, what we saw happening in Washington, D.C. kind of illuminates—I think, very boldly—the difference in treatment to one group over another in terms of how law enforcement responded," Sims said.

“We have to look at the systems in which racism has historically been allowed to breed, to perpetuate, and find life, and to continue to wreak havoc on Black and Brown communities.”

Sims adds that at the Jan. 25th County Council meeting, they’re hoping to finalize the makeup of a Special Review Committee, which will start working this March to engage residents and help carry out the recommendations in the report.

A copy of the report is below.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. While a Kent State student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.