St. Louis County public health official says he was called racial slurs after council meeting on mask mandate

St. Louis County public health official says he was called racial slurs after council meeting on mask mandate

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 2:40 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2021 2:40 PM

Faisal Khan, acting director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, said he faced "racist, xenophobic, and threatening behavior" after a County Council meeting on the mask mandate on Tuesday.

Khan sent a letter to County Council Chairwoman Rita Days detailing the harassment he says he encountered after addressing the council.

He had been invited by the council to explain the public health rationale behind the county's recent public health order that requires face coverings or masks, Kahn told CNN Thursday.

The city and county of St. Louis announced a mask mandate last week that requires those ages 5 and older to wear masks in indoor public spaces and on public transportation following an increase in cases of Covid-19, CNN previously reported.

Missouri's attorney general filed a lawsuit on the day the mandate went into effect and the St. Louis County Council voted to overturn the mask mandate after Khan's presentation on Tuesday.

Despite the vote, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Wednesday that the mask mandate remains in effect. The state's attorney general has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent Page, Khan and others from enforcing the mask mandate.

Khan, who says he has 25 years of experience in communicable disease control, told CNN he wrote the letter because he "was shaken up and completely distraught" over the way the meeting was conducted and the way he was "subjected to taunts and racist abuse and threats."

He said he wanted to let the council members know what happened, how he was treated and how an invaluable opportunity for the branches of government to learn about the Delta variant had been "squandered."

In the letter, Khan said his presentation "began with a dog-whistle question from Councilman Tim Fitch, who said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country."

"Dr. Khan, we certainly have heard of your background before but most here have not. Can you tell us why you are called Doctor Khan? Are you a physician in the United States?" Fitch asked.

Khan responded by saying he was an epidemiologist and not licensed to practice clinical medicine in the US.

In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fitch described the question as "an attempt to familiarize the audience with Khan's credentials." CNN has reached out to Fitch but has not yet heard back.

Khan said other members of the audience berated and tried to distract him during his presentation. He says he also heard people "mocking his accent" and impersonating the character of Apu from the animated series, "The Simpsons."

In addition to Fitch, CNN has reached out to the county council members named in Khan's letter and hasn't received a response.

After his presentation, Khan said he tried to leave the chamber but was confronted by several people in the aisle who "shoulder-bumped and pushed" him. Once he got outside of the chamber room, the crowd called him a "'fat brown c*nt' and a 'brown bastard,''' the letter states.

In the letter, Khan said he responded to the person who "physically threatened" him and used racial slurs, by using his middle finger in an obscene gesture and says, "political operatives" and Fitch have tried to use his reaction to the abuse against him.

Fitch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "'The entire letter is another attempt at deflection and diversion by Sam Page (the St. Louis County Executive). Dr. Khan knew he was in trouble for (giving the middle finger) and this was an opportunity to put that on someone else.'"

In an interview with CNN, Khan said, "While I regret the momentary loss of composure, it was at the end of a long, exhausting evening in which I had been subjected to ridicule, humiliation and all sorts of abuse, not the least of which was somebody getting in my face and yelling obscenities as I left ... And so, I let my composure slip, as a human being who's flawed, and I regretted that afterwards, but I certainly don't apologize for it because nobody, nobody, public official or not, should ever have to put up with that sort of nonsense no matter what the circumstances."

Khan ended the letter by saying he was willing to continue to brief the Council about Covid-19 in the future but asked that the previous matter be investigated, and similar events be prevented for his and his staff's safety.

When reached earlier in the day via social media by CNN, Khan said, "I remain extremely worried about what the Delta variant of the virus will do (to)(sic) our fellow St. Louis residents in the weeks and months ahead. I am disappointed that a simple public health measure such as the use of a mask have become unnecessarily politicized."

Page, who also hired Khan, said in a statement to CNN, "These actions against Dr. Khan are troubling and under investigation. The behavior he has detailed is shameful and cannot be tolerated."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 763915

Reported Deaths: 8581
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1526881914
Ramsey63091977
Dakota56699523
Anoka53591515
Washington33431329
Stearns28298252
St. Louis23444355
Scott21503159
Wright21099171
Olmsted18023118
Sherburne15420114
Carver1353254
Clay1016098
Rice9936131
Blue Earth960759
Crow Wing9396107
Kandiyohi830996
Chisago828062
Otter Tail7941104
Benton7454109
Beltrami645978
Mower642240
Douglas624689
Goodhue614784
Itasca608981
Winona608254
McLeod589270
Steele580825
Isanti565474
Morrison553566
Becker524662
Polk506377
Freeborn485242
Nobles480052
Lyon451456
Carlton443866
Nicollet431351
Pine424630
Cass420742
Mille Lacs411265
Brown405347
Todd397336
Le Sueur381831
Meeker354552
Waseca326130
Martin322834
Wabasha29095
Hubbard286744
Dodge27149
Roseau261026
Fillmore241012
Redwood238643
Wadena234629
Houston230017
Renville226449
Faribault218530
Pennington215027
Sibley207312
Cottonwood195228
Kanabec190230
Chippewa189740
Aitkin181542
Watonwan170311
Pope15888
Yellow Medicine154720
Rock154519
Jackson145614
Koochiching137919
Clearwater135518
Swift134219
Marshall133419
Murray133210
Pipestone132327
Stevens124211
Lake108121
Wilkin101314
Lac qui Parle97524
Mahnomen87712
Norman8579
Big Stone7934
Grant7759
Lincoln7695
Kittson60322
Red Lake5869
Unassigned541124
Traverse5075
Lake of the Woods4614
Cook2460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 467281

Reported Deaths: 6685
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk73698716
Linn28680379
Scott24441271
Black Hawk20130355
Woodbury18854242
Johnson17800100
Dubuque15577228
Pottawattamie14073197
Dallas13894107
Story1275148
Warren763496
Webster6876111
Cerro Gordo6816107
Clinton6814100
Des Moines657893
Marshall635484
Muscatine6294113
Wapello5807136
Jasper571478
Lee560787
Sioux560276
Marion499791
Buena Vista489745
Plymouth459187
Henry378647
Jones365160
Washington362255
Bremer353867
Benton352056
Boone344837
Carroll341753
Crawford337345
Mahaska313656
Dickinson297651
Clay274631
Buchanan274239
Jackson270445
Kossuth269373
Hardin266448
Tama261476
Fayette253848
Delaware253444
Cedar246326
Page244827
Wright240945
Winneshiek230837
Hamilton228553
Floyd216744
Harrison215277
Madison214325
Clayton210058
Poweshiek206840
Iowa204229
Butler203237
Jefferson197340
Mills197227
Allamakee192952
Cherokee191943
Lyon190641
Cass190557
Winnebago185432
Hancock184739
Calhoun184115
Appanoose175950
Shelby174239
Louisa169651
Grundy167937
Emmet163842
Franklin163328
Humboldt161826
Mitchell161843
Union159437
Chickasaw156418
Sac156323
Guthrie154034
Palo Alto140831
Clarke140028
Montgomery138941
Keokuk137534
Monroe131534
Howard125422
Ida116641
Davis113825
Greene113712
Lucas112224
Pocahontas109323
Monona107436
Worth10678
Adair103634
Osceola91117
Fremont83711
Van Buren82721
Decatur81212
Taylor78612
Wayne72024
Ringgold66827
Audubon64514
Adams4984
Unassigned150
Rochester
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 39°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 43°
Austin
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 46°
Charles City
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 38°
Much cooler air arrives to end the week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events