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New commission to end systemic racism to launch in Peoria

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Peoria (WEEK) -- The Racial Justice and Equity Commission was introduced to the Peoria City Council at its Tuesday evening meeting.

Democratic Senator Dave Koehler was apart of the initial discussion and said the 'Black Lives Matter' movement provided the momentum to make change happen.

"If you're going to deal with institutional racism, then you have to deal with an institutional approach to changing that. So this commission becomes part of structuring that," said Koehler.

Peoria Councilwoman Rita Ali is one of the city/county leaders spearheading the commission. Ali said this shows Peoria is being proactive, not reactive in this movement.

"So when something does happen we're not trying to figure it out. We're actually beginning to address the issues, remove the barriers now," said Ali.

Ali said the overall goal is to examine policies, practices, and procedures already in place.

"Really having a lens for equity in everything that we do. So it will require training and so we're going to invest in training every member of the commission as well as city and county staff," said Ali.

There will be nearly 160 member spots open for anyone who wants to be apart of the commission.

"There's going to be people all over of all different races that are going to want to sign up to be a part of this process. They want to be engaged in this in doing something related to social justice and equity in our community," said Ali.

Koehler said community reactions he's heard have been nothing but positive.

"I think we have to be sensitized that people have different experiences living in the same community. And we want to make sure that those experiences are just," said Koehler.

The next steps to approve this ordinance is a special joint meeting between the city council and count board, which is expected to happen in September.

Paige Blanzy

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