Lebanon council denounces racism after months of debate

Raye Kimberlin  was among people who urged Lebanon City Council to denounce racism.

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Raye Kimberlin was among people who urged Lebanon City Council to denounce racism.

After months of debate, Lebanon City Council unanimously denounced racism, prejudice and discrimination and resolved to continue to work for change in the community on these issues.

The 7-0 vote Tuesday came after multiple versions were proposed and abandoned during deliberations that were prompted by an incident in June and cited by residents who pressed the city council for action.

“Recent events have shown Council that all communities, including Lebanon, must act in protecting all members of our community from the scourge of racial discrimination and disparate treatment. Because racial prejudice is most harmful when harbored or ignored by people in positions of leadership, we believe it is incumbent on those of us who hold leadership positions in our community to speak about this issue,” according to the resolution.

The resolution also called for “courteous and respectful treatment of all people” by staff and elected officials and in hiring and employment by the city. It resolved to “take specific measures to address this important issue.”

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Council member Wendy Monroe indicated an advisory board would be formed to carry forward on the commitment.

“I think this is a milestone for Lebanon,” said Georgetta Sims, a retired Black officer from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office described as a pioneer in the integration of local law enforcement.

“It’s shame it’s taken this long to reach this point. We can move forward together,” Sims said during the meeting.

Resident Raye Kimberlin urged the council to form a human-relations commission and take note of steps taken by Lebanon City Schools in response to a federal investigation of racism allegations.

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Police investigated reports of threats made in June toward a Black youth wearing a mask painted with a symbol of the #Black Lives Matter movement while taking pictures in downtown Lebanon.

Over the next two months, three or four versions of a resolution were discussed by the council and members of the public.

“It really has been a process,” Mayor Amy Brewer said Tuesday.

Before the vote, supporters spent more than an hour urging passage of the resolution as what they considered a big step toward ending the community’s sometimes racist past.

“Do the right thing. Let’s fix it,” Benjamin Wotawa said.

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