BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — A Baltimore city councilman introduced legislation that would require each city agency to assess its policies and establish an annual fund, a two-pronged approach to eliminating “structural and institutional racism.”
Council Public Safety Committee Chair Brandon Scott say the two bills he introduced Monday aim to address Baltimore’s history of codified “racial inequity.”
One bill would mandate agencies develop a plan to reverse disparity trends based on race, gender and income. The other is a proposed charter amendment that would create an “equity assistance fund” worth 3 percent of the police department’s budget. Operating off this year’s police budget, the fund would receive more than $15 million.
Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods with a diverse population and was one of the first cities in the country to segregate by race, documented in Matthew Crenson’s book: Baltimore A Political History.
“That was Baltimore’s general approach to the issue of race–they didn’t want to talk about it,” Crenson told WJZ in a previous interview.
Since the wake of unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, there have been findings of unconstitutional and discriminatory police practices, economic struggle, and housing inequities. City leaders are not only talking about race, they are acting on issues related to discrimination.
Councilman Scott wants city agencies to root out inequities.
“Every agency has to assess their policies. Everything from HR to hiring to procurement through a lens of equity includes racial inequity, that includes gender inequity, it includes sexual orientation, it includes income inequity.” Councilman Scott said.
A city planning report shows predominately white neighborhoods receives twice as much as predominately black neighborhoods.
“When you see the conditions people live in, but also when you see the inability for so many people in the city to own a home versus rent and spending so much money–those kind of things we have to address and we can only address if we’re investing serious dollars in it,” Scott added.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he supports studying city policies, but doesn’t think the city can afford the fund.
The funding would require voter approval on the November ballot.
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