Statement on the Murder of George Floyd and Protests

We write at an historic and solemn moment for our country. A global pandemic grips the nation, disproportionately devastating communities of color, and cities from coast to coast are shaken by the poignant manifestation of anger and pain resulting from the violent murder of George Floyd. We are tired of seeing yet another unarmed black man die at the hands of law enforcement.

As a research institution invested in the health and wellbeing of those across our city, state and our nation, we understand that COVID-19 disparities and police violence are manifestations of the systemic and structural racism that underlies economic, educational, and social inequality in our country.  At times such as these, it is more important than ever that we be explicit about our social justice principles and mission. While the country and the world long for a return to normal, we must express our intolerance for the “normal” that produces health and social inequities, and we must refuse to be silent in the face of systemic, structural racism, police violence and white supremacy.

At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, many of our faculty, staff and students have devoted themselves to scholarship to produce evidence of the role of institutionalized and structured racism in producing health inequities. Major contributions have been made through academic-practice scholarship to provide evidence of police violence as a public health issue.1 Our students, staff and alumni, have devoted themselves to advocacy to name police violence as a public health threat. The importance of frontline pressure can be seen in the American Public Health Association calling for action in 10 concrete steps.2

Public health holds a privileged voice in the current moment and we call on you to reflect and act with the power of that privileged voice. We are witnessing how communities, institutions, and social networks - including those at UIC - are mobilizing resources quickly and efficiently to demand action. Public health can use its power now to address structural racism.

We cannot return to “normal.” As a public health community that values justice, respect, diversity, idealism and community, we recognize the pain that many of our staff, students, faculty, and communities are experiencing. We stand in solidarity with our impacted communities. We are calling on each other and you to act by speaking up, signing petitions, donating to protect activists, and challenging friends and family in your interpersonal circles along with policy makers at the local, state and national level to understand the profound and pervasive impacts of systematic racism and advocate for change.

 

Signatories

Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS
Dean

Dr. Linda Forst
Senior Associate Dean

Susan Altfeld, PhD
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

David DuBois, PhD
Associate Dean for Research

John Slavick
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

Nadine Peacock, PhD
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

Kaye Oberhausen
Assistant Dean for Advancement

Karin Opacich, PhD
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Public Health

Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD
Interim Associate Dean for Community Engagement

Supriya Mehta, PhD
Interim Associate Dean for Global Health

Lisa Powell, PhD
Division Chair, Health Policy and Administration

Lorraine Conroy, PhD
Division Chair, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Dr. Ron Hershow
Division Chair, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Arden Handler, DrPH
Interim Division Chair, Community Health Sciences

Christina Welter, DrPH
Interim Director, Doctor of Public Health Leadership Program

Sara Giloth
Director of Donor Relations

Robert Schroeder
Director of Communications and Marketing

References

  1. Holloway-Beth, Alfreda, Rachel Rubin, Kiran Joshi, Linda Rae Murray, and Lee Friedman. “A 5-year retrospective analysis of legal intervention injuries and mortality in Illinois.” International journal of health services 49, no. 3 (2019): 606-622.
  2. APHA Policy Number: 201811; 2018