IPHA Statement on Public Health Crisis of Racism and Violence
June 3, 2020
Tom Hughes, Executive Director, IPHA
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) released the following statement on Wednesday:
“As leaders in public health, it is our job to serve on the frontlines of protecting the public’s wellness. As it has been made abundantly clear over the past week, our responsibility is to not only protect those from threats to their health, but to address threats to the safety of people’s lives, including those lost to police brutality.
“We join the communities in mourning the lives lost, including the horrific killing of George Floyd, as well as the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others. We fully recognize the facts that racism and police violence are a public health crisis, and it would be negligent of those charged with protecting the public’s health to not speak out.
“In 2019, police killed 1,099 people in the United States. This fact alone should shock the public, but far more infuriating, that a black person is three times more likely to be killed. Our departments serve the public, but we often find our resources significantly directed more towards those citizens who face disparity, poverty and lack of access to healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a fact that those in the health community have already stated for many years, that the ability to receive quality healthcare is tied to the color of one’s skin. This is unacceptable.
“Structural and systemic racism are woven into everyday life for people living in communities of color. For many, the recent acts of brutality are nothing new, but simply added scars on top of those that many have been built up from years of unfair treatment and a lack of access to services that most in our state take for granted. It is time for our leadership, both at the state and federal level, to take action and make systematic changes to help stop senseless violence against unarmed citizens and reinvest in these forgotten communities.
“IPHA recommends the following actions by federal, state, tribal, and local authorities: (1) eliminate policies and practices that facilitate disproportionate violence against specific populations (including laws criminalizing these populations), (2) institute robust law enforcement accountability measures, (3) increase investment in promoting racial and economic equity to address social determinants of health, (4) implement community-based alternatives to addressing harms and preventing trauma, and (5) work with public health officials to comprehensively document law enforcement contact, violence, and injuries.
“It is our job to protect the health and safety of those around us, no matter the color of their skin. As public health leaders, we stand with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and with all those raising their voices against the injustice that has happened for far too long, and we refuse to be silent in this epidemic.”
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