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Utah creates pact to help fund fight against racism

December 16, 2020 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah officials have begun signing a new pact aimed at mitigating racism in institutions across the state.

The Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion unveiled Tuesday will provide baselines for public policy changes and investments that will help reduce racism.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said the decision to create the pact was made after the police killing of George Floyd earlier this year in Minneapolis.

“The killing of George Floyd (and) other significant events that have happened this past year have, I think, reminded all of us that we have not gotten to the promised land yet,” Herbert said. “We’re not where we wanted to be or where we should be.”

Democratic Rep. Sandra Hollins, the state’s only Black lawmaker, said the pact represents the first of many steps needed to fully address racism throughout the state’s policies and institutions. Hollins had been instrumental in persuading lawmakers to unanimously vote to remove wording in the state constitution that allowed slavery to be a punishment for crimes.

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“It is now time that we make sure that everyone is welcome in our community,” Hollins said. “It is time that wives are no longer laying in their bed at night wondering if their husband is going to come home because of their skin color. It is time that mothers are stopped (from) worrying about their kids, having to explain racism to their kids at a young age. And it is time that women of color in our community have the same access as everyone else.”

Herbert said he met with Black leaders after the summer protests on racial injustice about how best to address disparities across the state. He said that in addition to creating this pact, the state has signed into law a bill that banned police chokeholds, and members of his Cabinet have completed a six-month racial equity program.

“We can’t sit back and ignore the problem as if somehow it will magically go away,” Herbert added. “We need to be bold. We need to increase our dialogue with our communities of color. We need to have discussions and better understanding. Sometimes we need to listen so we can learn and understand before we can be understood.”