Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) announced Wednesday that he was creating the Office of Equity and Civil Rights in city government to root out discrimination and ensure equity in city policy.
The announcement came on what would have been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 91st birthday.
“This new office will allow me a single portal to monitor and address equity issues, in both the public and private sectors, and reflects my priority to create a more equitable city and a more equitable city government that puts the residents of Baltimore first,” Young said in a statement.
Young, who became mayor last May after the resignation of former mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), is seeking a full term this year. The multicandidate Democratic primary is set for April 28.
According to a news release, Young’s announcement essentially expands the Office of Civil Rights, and will enable attorney Darnell E. Ingram to retain the position of the office’s director. In a released statement, Ingram said that the combination of the two offices makes sense because the Office of Civil Rights was also serving as the home of the city’s Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
The news release said that the reconstituted office had been in the works since December 2017, when the “Solutions Summit in Baltimore” held by the Open Society Institute recommended that the mayor’s office create an Office of Racial Equity to eradicate “systemic barriers to the fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity.”
NAACP Baltimore City Branch President Kobi Little endorsed Young’s decision.
“The battle for equity is the new ‘civil rights struggle,’” Little said. “I applaud the mayor’s decision to place the new Equity Office under the auspices of the City’s Office of Civil Rights, not just because it is the portal through which the people lodge their complaints of inequity, but because it is the voice through which city government responds to calls from the residents for change and remedy.”
Last spring, Young made the Office of Civil Rights a standalone agency, so it could more aggressively investigate allegations of police misconduct. Previously, the office had been part of the City Solicitor’s office.