After observing a moment of silence for the late George Floyd, Arlington City Council affirmed its commitment to racial equality by unanimously passing two resolutions during its evening meeting Tuesday.
“We’ve been known as a can-do city,” Mayor Jeff Williams said. “And now, perhaps, this is one of the most important times ever for us to show that can-do spirit to come together and make change happen and turn a terrible murder — a tragedy — into an opportunity for us to improve the lives of the citizens of Arlington and to save lives and to have equal rights for all here in our city.”
The same factors that have made Latino communities structurally vulnerable even before the pandemic have made them more susceptible during the pandemic.
The first resolution, presented as “Equity Related to COVID-19,” acknowledges the pandemic’s devastating impact on those over the age of 65 and members of the African American and Hispanic communities. The resolution also confirms the city’s commitment to centering the community’s responses to the pandemic around racial equity.
“Know that it’s not just a declaration; it's just a first step,” council member Barbara Odom-Wesley said.
The second resolution, presented as “Racial Equity Resolution,” affirms the city’s commitment to equality for its residents of all racial, ethnic and national origins.
UTA graduate student Andrew Franklin spoke during the meeting addressing the vagueness of the resolution and requesting that the council do everything in its power to address racial inequity as directly as possible.
“When I see these platitudes, I’m used to these being hollow promises,” Franklin said. “Racial injustice in America has been around much, much, much longer than it has had any right to.”
Williams said the council felt it was necessary to have this resolution be separate from the “Equity Related to COVID-19” resolution.
“This particular resolution is overarching over all aspects of our city, including the police department,” Williams said. “There are no limitations here on this resolution.”
Williams read a proclamation authored by Arlington residents containing issues the council was committed to addressing, within its authority.
These issues include providing equal protections, treatment and justice under the law, addressing deficiencies in current policing standards, evaluating the hiring and retention of officers of color, coordinating between community organizations and the Arlington Police Department, and training in de-escalation techniques for police to reduce the loss of life and property.
Williams said during the next meeting, City Council would be discussing the implementation of a police oversight committee.