St. Louis official says he was targeted with racist slurs over mask promotion

St. Louis official says he was targeted with racist slurs over mask promotion
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A St. Louis, Mo., health official said that he experienced "racist, xenophobic, and threatening behavior" during a local government meeting on Tuesday night after he provided his expertise in support of the county's mask mandate. 

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan was invited to speak at the County Council meeting to comment on the data that has prompted a new mask mandate as the delta variant spreads rapidly in the United States, according to local outlet kdsk. The state of Missouri in particular has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks. 

The indoor mask mandate went into effect on Monday in an effort to reduce infections and hospitalizations in the area. Wearing masks outside is encouraged but not required. 

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Khan told The Washington Post that his treatment by the council members and others in attendance was "the saddest, most bizarre and disgusting thing" he had witnessed in his 30-year career in public health.

"My time before the Council began with a dog-whistle from Councilman Tim Fitch, who said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country," Khan wrote in a letter to the council's chairwoman. 

He also described being "consistently berated" throughout his presentation and facing jeers and physical assaults when he tried to exit the meeting.

"On more than one occasion, I was shoulder-bumped and pushed. As I approached the exit and immediately outside the chambers, I became surrounded by the crowd in close quarters, where members of the crowd yelled at me, calling me a 'fat brown c---' and a 'brown b------.'" 

Khan is the latest public health professional to experience mistreatment and clash with elected officials during the pandemic.

A Maryland man was charged this week in the state's federal court with making threats against Anthony FauciAnthony FauciWatch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing Intercept reporters discuss gain-of-function research The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration MORE, the nation's top infectious diseases expert. The pressures of the pandemic have caused more than 250 public health officials to leave the profession, CNN reported in May