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Council considers $900,000 study to address racism in Cincinnati

Posted at 12:09 AM, Dec 06, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Members of the public spent an hour Wednesday night pleading with members of City Council to address what they believe is a serious, longstanding and pervasive pattern of racism in the city.

Councilmembers including P.G. Sittenfeld, Tamaya Dennard and Greg Landsman agreed. The solution proposed by the latter two could cost Cincinnati $900,000.

Landsman and Dennard submitted a motion to research whether it would be feasible to assemble "a task force to assess, measure and address institutional racism and systemic inequities in the City of Cincinnati." 

If approved, the task force would mirror one established in 2016 in Austin, Texas, where business, education and criminal justice leaders worked together to measure the impact of race on housing, education, health, finance and criminal justice.

Dennard believes it's important enough to spend the money. A task force study would have more authority than the observations of individuals like those who attended the meeting, many of whom said they saw the impact of racism in the city's hiring and firing, the distribution of tax dollars and gentrification of poor, black neighborhoods.

"I think people have their hunches about what racism and what they think it may look like and how it manifests itself," Dennard said. "A study actually looks at policy. We hire professionals to peel back the city's policies and look at what makes our policies discriminatory toward African Americans."

It would also give the council a concrete direction in which to move when seeking to address the issues it uncovered.

Councilmembers previously passed a motion to fund the study 9-0 but have yet to secure funding.

They decided again Wednesday to table it until they had figured out how to pay for it.