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'This was our moment': Mayor presents solutions from commission on equality study

Posted at 6:03 PM, Dec 01, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Sometimes opportunity is lost because you didn’t even hear it knocking, or you couldn’t see it. That was not the case in Lexington for Mayor Linda Gorton.

“I said from the very beginning last summer, this is our golden opportunity. This is our moment,” Mayor Gorton said.

Gorton, speaking from her office at the government center in downtown Lexington on Tuesday, was set to present her panel’s findings and remedies after commissioning roughly 70 people to help re-shape the city into something that is more fair and equitable for the city's minority neighbors. The plan is incredibly detailed and some of the initiatives are already in motion. It was all hatched back in June when a group of Lexington faith and community leaders marched downtown to present their ideas to city officials.

“It was an important statement by them,” said Gorton.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, both of which involved police, nightly protests in Lexington became as much a part of our summer as those Thursday concerts at Cheapside Park, which by the way, is now going to be called Henry Tandy Centennial Park, given Cheapside’s history as a slave auction site. That’s just one of the many remedies to have emerged from the panel member’s work.

A $260,000 investment is being made for the police department as well, so no message gets lost in translation hopefully ever again.

“Every single officer and some of our safety officers will have body cameras,” said Assistant Chief of Police Brian Maynard.

Maynard and Mayor Gorton also highlighted the conflict resolution training officers will be required to undergo, while the department will be looking more closely for possible racial bias in its officers.

The city also plans to invest a half million dollars to determine the degree to which minority business owners are not getting a fair share of the pie. There’s a disparity, and city officials want to see how big the gap truly is at this time.

“That study will take a couple of years. It’s a big undertaking,” Gorton added, before rattling off more programs already up and running, like the eviction prevention program, and neighborhood mobile COVID-19 testing, which usually takes place in areas that have been hit the hardest by the spread of the virus.

This study itself was a big undertaking. Attempting to unwind 300 years-worth of “history” is a big undertaking. But the chance to finally make a change presented itself when that brave group of men and women marched through town and presented the mayor with that list.

“If we don’t take this opportunity, then we lose it. I really believe this was the right thing to do,” Mayor Gorton said while pointing to commission paperwork.

She made her presentation of the study to city council members late on Tuesday afternoon.