Health Director Describes Racist Taunts at Mask Meeting

Council member announced to crowd that Dr. Faisal Khan is not from the US
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2021 6:20 PM CDT
Crowd Taunts, Shoves Health Director Backing Masks
Dr. Faisal Khan, St. Louis County health director, answers questions from county council members Tuesday night in Clayton, Mo.   (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

As the crowd at a public meeting of the St. Louis County Council began taunting the local health director, he turned to council members for help. He got none. "When I asked you to intervene ... you lectured me—not them," Dr. Faisal Khan later wrote to the council's chairwoman. In fact, KSDK reports, Khan said that as he was beginning his presentation Tuesday about COVID-19 and his support for a mask mandate, one council member "said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country," Khan's letter said. Khan, who had been invited to update the council, said Wednesday night he had not received a response from the council chairwoman, Democrat Rita Days, per the Washington Post. The council voted in the meeting to overturn the mask mandate just imposed by the county executive.

Days said she was surprised by Khan's account and said she didn't hear any taunts, per KSDK. "There is no place for racial intolerance," Days wrote in an email. "Emotions were running high and things were said and done that were unnecessary." There was more abuse when he left the meeting, Khan said. He was pushed and bumped in the crowd outside, he said, and called racial slurs, including a "brown b-----d." Some mocked his accent. Khan said he became a US citizen in 2013 after working in the field all over the world, including China, Australia, Zimbabwe, and other states. He said he wasn't subjected to this sort of treatment anywhere and blamed "the deliberate politicization of a public health emergency." Khan called the experience "the saddest, most bizarre and disgusting thing that I've ever witnessed in my 30 years in public health," per the Post. (A crowd hostile to masks brought an end to a school board meeting.)

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