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City of Akron's Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce Submits Final Recommendations


City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of City of Akron Press Office
Published: 02-28-2022

Akron, Ohio, February 28, 2022 — In June of 2020, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Council President Margo Sommerville declared racism as a public health crisis with the support of Akron City Council. That declaration led to the creation of a Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) Taskforce. This group was tasked with formulating meaningful recommendations of policy change to create a more racially equitable, socially just community and to bridge the racial wealth divide in the City of Akron. After 14-months of research and spirited conversations, the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce formally presented its final recommendations to Mayor Horrigan and Council President Margo Sommerville today. View the full report and recommendations here.

The RESJ Taskforce consisted of an Executive Committee, with additional Subcommittees on specific topics. The Executive Committee of the RESJ Taskforce, appointed by the Mayor and Council President and approved by City Council, included 29 community members from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. The Taskforce was assembled for the purpose of developing a pro-equity strategic plan responsive to this crisis.

“I want to thank Bishop Joey Johnson and all of the members of the executive committee and subcommittees who put so many hours of thought, research, and debate into the recommendations which were presented to us today," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "These recommendations will not exist as a lifeless document that sits on a shelf – but rather a plan of action, with specific benchmarks, that the community will use to hold us accountable for creating real change. We know that racism is not a thing of the past but rather a very real threat that exists in our community to this day. That's why we must be constantly working towards a more equitable Akron and say in a unified voice that racism has no place in this community. I am incredibly grateful to all members of the Taskforce for their time and talent, and I know that this report will impact Akron for generations to come.”  

“These recommendations will be a roadmap for constructive, extensive, long-overdue, and long-lasting change in our community,” said Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville. “I want to thank Bishop Johnson for his leadership, as well as the members of the Taskforce and the subcommittees for their dedication to researching, identifying, and customizing solutions that will work for Akron, our institutions, and our residents. Sadly, racism and racial inequity are still very present realities. The recommendations put forth by the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce will help us make it clear we are resolute in our commitment to address the structural, institutional, and individual inequities that have historically plagued our city.  Our residents deserve nothing less.” 

Final recommendations from the subcommittees include:

Communications Subcommittee

The Communications Subcommittee focused on finalizing the plans for a communications framework and establishing the Racial Equity Guiding Coalition. The Subcommittee also renewed its support for the equity guidelines provided by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and recommended Akron's continued participation in GARE.

Criminal Justice Subcommittee

The Criminal Justice Subcommittee finalized recommendations in several areas related to the City of Akron Police Department. The Subcommittee’s final recommendations focus on police accountability mechanisms, a police auditor and civilian oversight board, body-worn camera legislation and policy, police training, hiring and promotion practices, and community policing.

Education Subcommittee

The Education Subcommittee’s recommendations center on policy changes that will narrow the opportunity and achievement gaps which exist between students of color and white students and limit the effects of poverty on educational opportunity. The areas in which the Subcommittee has made recommendations include: student access, student-centered learning and closing the achievement gap, pandemic recovery, cultural responsiveness, and fiscal transparency.

Equitable Workforce Development Subcommittee

The Workforce Development Subcommittee focused the bulk of its recommendations on preparing diverse candidates for employment with the City and its largest employers.

Health Subcommittee

The Health Subcommittee finalized policy recommendations focused on addressing the root causes of inequities that exist in practices, policies and organizational structures of public health and healthcare systems. The Subcommittee’s Diversity Scorecard was adopted as a recommendation of the Executive Committee to be utilized by the entire Taskforce. The rest of the Subcommittee’s recommendations focus on how the City can work to improve health care for its employees and citizens as a whole. 

Housing Subcommittee

The Housing Subcommittee finalized recommendations which will increase the number of inclusive, healthy neighborhoods in Akron, and which will increase fair access to opportunities for economic advancement and mobility. The recommendations include action items housed within three strategies: invest in neighborhoods that have experienced a history of disinvestment and inequity, provide opportunities for people of color to live in more integrated communities, and promote homeownership opportunities to decrease the wealth gap.

“I am honored to have overseen this very important and historic body of work,” said Bishop Joey Johnson, Chair of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce. “Systemic and institutional racism was not woven into the City’s policies and procedures overnight in Akron and it will take time to eradicate the injustices that have plagued our society for centuries. This is just the beginning and I look forward to seeing our recommendations being implemented over the next five years and beyond.”

Taskforce policy recommendations will require a review of the City’s budget to determine an implementation process and timelines. The City’s next steps with handling the Taskforce Report are outlined below:

  • The Mayor, City Council, and the Mayor’s Cabinet Members will review the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce’s Final Report.
  • The City will submit a response to the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce’s Final Report, outlining which policy recommendations it plans to undertake immediately, and which recommendations will be considered thereafter.
  • The City will review its general revenue funding to ensure sustainability of the policy recommendations.
  • The City will utilize American Rescue Plan Act funding where appropriate. 

For further information, contact:
City of Akron Press Office
Phone: 330-375-2754
E-mail: [email protected]

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