Calls for action as panel releases data showing deep racial disparity in Peoria

Peoria(25 News Now)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:42 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - The Peoria City Council received data Tuesday night about racial inequities in the city and in Peoria County that one elected official said was “very sobering” and what the mayor described as “the hard truth.”

The city and county’s Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity released its annual report which listed many areas of racial disparity including the average life span for Black person is 64, compared to 79 for someone who is White.

The report said 47% of Black families need household food assistance, compared to 23% of Hispanic families and 14.5% of White families.

Almost 8 in 10 inmates at the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center are Black. The report showed 16% of the juvenile jail’s population are White.

The commission’s co-chair, Tim Bertschy called those numbers shocking.

“What that means is that for every five people sent to the juvenile detention center, four of them are Black,” Bertschy told the council.

“Think what that means for their future and think what that means for our community,” Bertschy said.

The data also showed that Black drivers make up 61% of all the police department’s traffic stops in Peoria even though Blacks comprise just 27% of the population.

District 3 City Council member Tim Riggenbach called the data, “very sobering” and impacting the entire region.

“We’ve got to become comfortable having some uncomfortable conversations, and this is some pretty heavy stuff, it really is,” said Andre Allen from District 4.

At-large Council member John Kelly said it’s important to understand the causes of the various disparities, while Chuck Grayeb from District 2 is calling for an action plan and to reach out to the community for what needs to be done.

“We need to have real solutions to real problems,” Grayeb said.

The commission co-chairs plan to create a historical record on its website showing key indicators of racial disparities, gather input from various city and county organizations, study what other communities are doing to address inequities and develop “high-level” strategic plans.

Mayor Rita Ali said the report exceeded her expectations.

“It’s the hard truth, data-driven, but it tells us where we are and we have to know where we are before we can begin to get better,” the mayor said.