Faith-Driven Activism is Pushing This California County to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

People demonstrate for racism to be deemed a public health crisis in San Bernardino County, California, June 2, 2020. Photo courtesy of Inland Congregations United for Change

In the Inland Empire, a faith-driven effort is pushing San Bernardino County elected officials to declare racism a public health crisis.

This declaration, in a county resolution form, will be up for approval later this month after pastors, faith leaders, residents and community organizers advocated for the shift in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

On Tuesday (June 9), the county Board of Supervisors directed its staff to draft a resolution. Their next meeting is June 23.

The Rev. Samuel Casey urged the supervisors to not speak for the black community, but to work with them through this process.

“Please do not make this ceremonial. Please do not patronize us. Stand with us. Work with us. Incorporate us in the process,” Casey, pastor of New Life Christian Church in Fontana, told the board.

“We’re going to lead the state. We’re going to lead this region and we’re going to become a model for the nation, that we have not only declared racism as a public health crisis, but we have put the actionable steps in place to eradicate the invisible systems that have allowed racism to remain around for far too long,” Casey said.

He added: “For those of us who are in the faith, it’s time for us to tear down the dividing wall that has far too long separated us.”

This effort emerged the last week of May, days after Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police during an arrest.

Casey, who is the executive director of Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, said he received a text from a colleague alerting him to news of racism being deemed a public health emergency in Columbus, Ohio.

He felt San Bernardino County should do the same and alerted the Rethink Public Safety Coalition, a group spearheaded by Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement.

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Source: Religion News Service