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Washington counties declare racism as a public health crisis

June 19, 2020 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — The Board of Health departments in two Washington state counties have declared racism a public health crisis after worldwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

King and Pierce counties join governments across the country in recognizing racism as a public health crisis and taking steps toward racial equity, KING-TV reported.

“Recent killings of Manuel Ellis, George Floyd, and others have prompted leaders to re-examine policies and practices that increase disparities linked solely to race,” Pierce County health officials said.

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Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.

“Racism harms every person in our society and is the root cause of poverty and economic inequality,” King County health officials said in the statement.

The declaration by King and Pierce county health departments means more resources for community organizations to address racial biases.

“Board members also recognized racism is interwoven into the social, economic, and environmental factors that make us healthy and affect some in our communities, especially Black/African Americans, more than others,” said Anthony L-T Chen, health director for Tacoma-Pierce County.