May 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Minneapolis city council official calls for racism to be declared a public health emergency

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins called on state and local officials Thursday to declare racism a public health emergency — while also urging protestors to keep "peace and calm in our streets" in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

The big picture: Jenkins, the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S., addressed a press conference after the city's mayor, Jacob Frey, announced an "all-out effort to restore peace and security in our city" after a second night of clashes between police and protesters left one person dead.

  • The FBI and the Justice Department have opened an investigation into the case of Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes during an arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill. The incident was caught on video.
  • Four officers involved in the incident have been fired, and Frey has called for immediate charges against the officer who detained Floyd.

What they're saying:

"Until we name this virus, this disease that has infected America for the past 400 years, we will never, ever resolve this issue. To those who say bringing up racism is racist in and of itself, I say to you, if you don't call cancer what it is, you can never cure that disease. And so in an effort to try and cure this disease, I am stating exactly what everyone else has witnessed, and that is racism. 
"Today is a sad day for Minneapolis. It's a sad day for America. It's a sad day for the world. I want to remind all of the people that are in the streets protesting, you have every absolute right to be angry, to be upset, to be mad, to express your anger. However, you have no right to perpetrate violence and harm on the very communities that you say that you are standing up for. We need peace and calm in our streets, and I am begging you for that calm."
— Andrea Jenkins
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