Dear MPHA Members and Friends:
The jury selection began this week for the criminal trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. This is a time of intense apprehension for our communities and our state. The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) acknowledges that for many of us—especially for Black, American Indian, Latinx and other community members who often feel targeted by police violence and harm—the coming days may feel deeply distressing. Many of you may carry the pain, grief, and rage that arises from a system that too often oppresses and targets Black lives.
Over the summer, Minnesota became the epicenter of a global movement for racial justice. Many Minnesotans are bracing for another public reckoning. We have long weeks ahead—weeks filled with media coverage, a trial with a yet to be known outcome, and a militarized city. We understand that there is a strong desire for Derek Chauvin to be held accountable for George Floyd’s death. However, our all-too-recent history has shown that cases like these have been difficult to prosecute. However, public outcry has begun to shift the tide.
Please know that your MPHA members stand with you along with the thousands of people that have gathered in Minneapolis every day this week to demand justice for George Floyd. As public health professionals, students, advocates, and health providers, we are acutely aware of the deep-seated and longstanding disparities in health outcomes among Black, American Indian, Latinx and other communities of color in Minnesota. These inequities arise from structural racism, discrimination, and conscious and unconscious bias ingrained in all of our systems. There are many ways to support and strengthen our community in the weeks to come—whether that be making space for healing for loved ones and friends, listening to community voices, or participating in peaceful protests while following COVID-19 precautions.
There is also a need to move the criminal justice system to a more preventative model that results in a more just and equitable Minnesota for ALL citizens––this is the responsibility of all of us.
The Minnesota Public Health Association