SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson is instituting a new blue-ribbon task force to investigate racial disparities in Savannah.
The mayor first made the announcement to hundreds of protestors outside of Savannah City Hall during a protest on Sunday. He said, “today is a moment, tomorrow is a movement.”
On Monday, he went into further detail about the task force.
“We agree and fully acknowledge that governments across the country, law enforcement or agencies across the country, including the Savannah Police Department, have not always done the right thing as it relates to our citizens,” Johnson said in a press conference. “We acknowledge it and the first step of addressing it is to own it.”
Johnson said the next step is to quantify it and examine the data. That includes treatment by law enforcement or disparities in health, education, and economic status.
The mayor said a task force has not yet formed, but former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson and the current Savannah Police Chief, Roy Minter, will give their input.
“I had several conversations with people who were out marching. I walked with them we talked, I answered questions,” Minter said. “This is what it’s about, having an open and honest dialogue in a respectful way between both parties.”
Johnson added he’s also taking recommendations from people in the community. He said this process will take “courageous conversations” and a lot of work.
“We are very quick to oftentimes call people racist or we’ll call them prejudiced. Let’s quantify that,” Johnson said. “What does that mean? (…) We need to move people from being non-racists and non-participatory to being anti-racist saying, ‘this is wrong. We have to do something about it.'”