LOUISVILLE, Ky. (NewsNation Now) — It has been a tumultuous year in Louisville, Kentucky that started when Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in her apartment on March 13.
Protests, anger, and a call for change followed.
Nine months later, and things are starting to look more normal downtown.
The international and national media have cleared out. The boarded up windows are gone.
But there is still a lot of pain. The wounds have exposed an economic and social divide that led the mayor to sign an executive order this week declaring racism as a public health crisis.
“People have said how is racism a public health crisis. Look at the simple fact that the average life span for a Black person in America is 10 years less than a white person in America. And ask yourself how is that just? What goes into that,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.
The mayor has laid out seven goals in what he calls his Advancing Racial Equality for Black Louisville strategy.
He says the city will re-imagine public safety, support children and families, increase Black employment, build Black wealth, invest in affordable housing, address the health impacts of racism, and eliminate barriers to voting.
The mayor says the initiatives will make a big difference on the city’s West End.
Residents are hopeful, but skeptical.
“I feel like if we had more resources, the same amount that seems to be available to other parts of town such as support where we are not stereotyped because it is always assumed we are from the west end we are all criminals and so forth. I feel like we already have so many strikes against us just off the color of our skin and where we are from,” Louisville West End resident Laura Jackson said.
West End resident Derek Evans recently got out of prison and is trying to find a job.
“If our children die in these streets, what would our existence be? There won’t be none. They are dying before we do. And it don’t make sense. They say Black Lives Matter. OK … if Black Lives Matter, a lot of the killing are coming from us killing ourselves. So if Black Lives Matter put the damn guns down. Find something better to do. Help each other instead of fighting each other. Get to know each other. They don’t want to do that,” Evans said.
Milly Martin is raising four kids in Louisville. Since Breonna Taylor’s death, she has spent much of her time as a political activist fighting for change.
She is hopeful the mayor’s executive order is the beginning of change and says activities will hold the city accountable.
“This is something we have never seen before. Anywhere. We have never heard of them actually making it an African American thing. That is the biggest thing. It has never been specific to Black people. Nothing that has ever happened has just been specific to Black people because they always say oh we can’t just help one race of people. So seeing that and seeing everything they had in the order was just amazing to me. We are just hoping that the city is able to follow through,” Martin said.
The mayor says some of the initiatives have already begun. Others will take years.
“Underinvested communities are used to hearing promises and not enough results. It is about the actions. It is not about the words,” Mayor Fischer said.
The mayor says the city has already created a civilian review board for the police department so civilians have a chance to review complaints about police officers.
They are also in the process of hiring a new police chief and expect to have an announcement within the next month.