Statement About the Death of Daunte Wright

John R. Finnegan Jr. | April 12, 2021

SPH faculty, staff, and students:

Sunday evening, we learned that Daunte Wright, a young Black man, was killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer. It was yet another tragic death of a Black man at the hands of police, part of the compounding tragedy after tragedy that Black Americans experience so much. As President Gabel wrote, “This must stop, but will only end when each of us accepts that we all have a role to play in building a more equitable, safe, and welcoming community.”

We’re fortunate to have two experts in our school who are looking into police violence and how to prevent it and understand its impact. Where there is knowledge, there is hope. Professor Rhonda Jones-Webb studies ways to prevent violent encounters between police and young Black men. Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman, founding director of the SPH Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, is exploring the association between police violence and health outcomes for Black mothers and babies (read the center’s statement about Wright’s death).

Today, we again need to acknowledge the raw emotion ignited by events such as Wright’s death and the trauma and retraumatization that is occurring anew within our community. It may sound like a broken record, but now more than ever, please take care of yourselves. Your feelings are real and justified and you may rightfully seek to express them in peaceful public protest. But please be careful to recognize that not everyone around you wishes to do so peacefully. Further violence only adds to the tragedies we have already experienced. And please keep in mind the following resources available to our community:

I note, also, that today, April 12, is the first day of Ramadan, a month holy to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Introspective reflection, fasting, and prayer are Ramadan’s hallmarks. All of us may benefit from deep reflection at this time.

Please stay safe and well.

John R. Finnegan Jr.
Dean and Professor

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