Group aiming to improve racial equality kicks off first meeting Tuesday

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 7:19 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new group formed to address racial inequities is hoping to bring changes to the City of Charleston holds its first meeting Tuesday night.

The Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation consists of 13 members, including six Charleston City Council members appointed by Mayor John Tecklenburg and seven community members.

Members will lead seven different subcommittees focused on different topics:

  • Housing and Mobility
  • Youth and Education
  • History and Culture
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Health Disparities and Environmental Justice
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Internal Review

Tecklenburg tasked them with creating a new action plan and wants them to submit a report in 90 days.

The city’s Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation Manager, Amber Johnson, says with lots of local and national movements, now is the time for the city to see some new policies in place.

“The time for it is now. I think we’re seeing a movement, not just locally, but nationally. So, it’s important that we’re not left behind in this moment,” Johnson said. “It’s important that we do the work, so that we can advance racial equity within the city of Charleston.”

Johnson says the criminal justice reform committee could address things like how protests are handled.

The goal of each subcommittee is to come up with a plan of action for reform and present it to the city. She says plans could be discussed with the police department to see what is possible and feasible.

Johnson says the subcommittees, like the criminal justice reform committee, will review current issues in the city and give reform ideas. However, she says it’s important to note that there is not a specific list of what the committees must talk about.

“The goal for our commission is definitely to have some groups come in and kind of talk about issues within the area,” Johnson said. “So, there’s definitely opportunities for us to receive feedback during some of these meetings.”

Johnson says they will also introduce new plans for how the city provides services to employees - like with public transportation. For example, the internal review committee could evaluate who gets access and what barriers are in the way of certain people receiving benefits.

The different subcommittee’s are expected to meet at least twice a month, addressing policy changes and creating recommendations for the City of Charleston.

Johnson says there will be an open application process for other citizens to join in on the conversations. That is supposed to be posted later tuesday afternoon.

You can watch the meeting on Zoom. You can call in and listen in via conference call at 1-929-205-6099; Meeting ID#: 999.

It begins at 5:30 p.m.

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