The Democrat Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, signed an executive order Tuesday declaring racism as a public health crisis. The executive order declares that several of the city’s “systems are more than broken”. They need to “be dismantled and replaced.”
Mayor Fischer held a press conference to announce this odd action and explained that the death of Breonna Taylor made Louisville a “focal point for America’s reckoning on racial justice.”
“For too many Louisvillians, racism is a fact of daily life, a fact that was created and documented in our country’s laws and institutional policies like segregation, redlining, and urban renewal,” Fischer said. “Laws and policies that restrict the freedom of all Americans to exercise their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Fischer is serving in his third and last term as mayor. He cannot run for re-election in 2022. With a time limit in place, clearly, Fischer thinks the time is now to jump on the racial justice bandwagon and see how far he can push the envelope. It isn’t a new subject for him, either. The photo at the top of this post is of the mayor standing in front of the Confederate monument near the University of Louisville. He and the university president addressed a crowd of people about the monument, capped with a statue of Jefferson Davis, and of the decision to remove it. That statue had stood in that spot since 1895.
The mayor’s correct in saying that the nation’s eyes focused on Louisville after the Breonna Taylor. Louisville became a focus of news coverage, not just because her death was an unfortunate tragedy at the hands of police, but because the mayor allowed his city to be held hostage by protest marches, rioting, and looting. The civil unrest continues even now, six months later, in the city. Louisville has many problems. About 30% of Louisville’s black population (155,000 people) live in poverty. That number is three times the number of white people living in poverty. For home ownership, 73% of white residents own their own homes while 36% of black residents own their own homes. He told the people of Louisville that there is “no going back” after the months of protests and violence.
Writing that a “tremendous gap” exists in privileges and opportunities, Fischer signed an executive order targeting seven areas of racial injustice — public safety, children and families, employment, Black wealth, housing, health and voting.
“There is no going, quote, ‘back to normal,’” Fischer said in a virtual speech. “The Louisville that we were in March wasn’t good enough, wasn’t equitable enough. Higher standards for equity must be the goal for every aspect of life in our city.”
The death of Breonna Taylor wasn’t about equity, though, it was about a raid on an apartment gone wrong. The police believed she had been storing drugs for her ex-boyfriend at her apartment. In the confusion of the raid that night, her current boyfriend fired his gun at police when they were at the door. That caused a defensive reaction from the police. Taylor was shot multiple times and died. Black Lives Matter groups hijack protests and marches and agitate crowds, which is where the demands of social justice come in. What began as marching to remember Breonna and calls for the police to be held accountable turned into Black Lives Matter protests.
The mayor didn’t specifically say how his executive order would heal Louisville’s racial divisions and solve racial equity issues. He has a list of steps. The list is a liberal’s dream list. Police reform in favor of “non-enforcement alternatives” is at the top of the list. Sorry, Louisville Police Department, the mayor is throwing you under the bus. The mayor wants social workers to respond to police calls.
Developing “behavioral health response teams” as a “non-enforcement” alternative or support to police;
Establishing a plan to ensure every home has broadband and Wi-Fi access;
Closing the Black pay gap and increasing Black employees in professional, managerial and technical positions;
Advocating for a boost to minimum wages to a “living” wage; and
Investing in homeowners and infrastructure improvements in disadvantaged neighborhoods such as in the West End.
It sounds as though Mayor Fischer wants to turn Louisville into an East Coast version of Seattle or Portland. He has not brought forward a budget proposal for his wish list of initiatives or a timeline to complete the tasks. In other words, it’s all just talk at this point. Even the president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League noted that words are nice but it’s the real work that matters. She called out Fischer for his emphasis on all the feels, not any real actions, as Democrats are prone to do.
“We don’t have the space to pretend like work is being done because people use good words,” Reynolds said. “It is urgent. It’s always been urgent; it is even more urgent now, because of the pandemic, because of the racial unrest, because people are really at their wits’ end.
“We can’t just give people something that makes them feel good but doesn’t accomplish anything.”
Fischer wants to double funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and invest $21.2 million to combat evictions and homelessness. Other actions will need the state’s help, such as changing state law to restore voting rights, instituting mail-in ballot options, and expanding early voting.
Some activists questioned if Fischer even bothered to get input from protesters or specific people in the black community at all. Fischer admits his staff put the wish list together, not him. He said that his staff came up with it after working with community partners and members of his Build Back Better Together team. Build Back Better Together? Did the mayor take Biden’s lame slogan and co-opt it for Louisville?
The mayor said there are 400 years of history to make up for.
“In my lifetime, there has never been more conversation taking place or more action taking place in the community around racial equity and racial justice,” Fischer said. “Is it enough? It’s never going to be enough. We’ve got 400 years of history to make up for.
“But this is a time when people are attuned to justice and making the type of investment and changes that are required to move us further in that direction.”
Louisville officials have said the city is already “out front” for its knowledge of how race affects residents’ lives. An executive order from the mayor isn’t going to do much in the way of change. This was a photo op for the mayor to make himself and his supporters feel good, as though he is working on the problems in race relations. He has less than two years left in office to erase 400 years of history and re-write those years as liberals with white guilt would like them to be. Fischer has left some big topics unaddressed until he is about to walk out the door.