St. Louis public health leader says he faced 'angry mob' after promoting mask mandate

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The acting director of the St. Louis County Health Department said he faced an "angry mob" and was called racist slurs in a St. Louis County council meeting where he promoted a mask mandate, according to The Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Dr. Faisal Khan appeared before the council July 27. The city and St. Louis County announced July 23 that they would require masking in indoor public places and on public transportation beginning July 26. On July 27, the council voted, 5-2, to rescind the order.

In a July 28 letter to council Chair Rita Days, published by the Post-Dispatch, Dr. Khan said his goal was to promote the requirement as "an important disease transmission mitigation strategy necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus, especially as the much more contagious delta variant is now the dominant variant in Missouri and in our region."

But Dr. Khan, who is from South Asia and has an MBBS medical degree, said he was confronted by several people who were in the aisle after his presentation and was shoulder-bumped and pushed more than once.

"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," he told Ms. Days. He said he was "called racist slurs and surrounded by an angry mob" and he then "expressed my displeasure by using my middle finger toward an individual who had physically threatened me and called me racist slurs."

Dr. Khan also accused Councilmember Tim Fitch and U.S. Senate candidate Mark McCloskey of making efforts "to stoke xenophobia against me."

A spokesman for Mr. McCloskey called Dr. Khan's allegations against Mr. McCloskey "fictitious," according to the Post-Dispatch.

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Mr. Fitch denied that he asked racist and dog-whistle questions during the meeting but said he did hear booing and jeering from the crowd.

He added that he didn't hear "anything other than boos and jeers that was inappropriate, and I'm not saying it didn't happen, what I'm saying is I didn't hear it."

The office of Sam Page, MD, St. Louis County executive, launched a probe into Dr. Khan's allegations, and Ms. Days said she would open her own investigation, according to the Post-Dispatch.

The Washington Post article is available here. Click here for the Post-Dispatch article and here for the St. Louis Public Radio article.

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