Tackling the Other Public Health Pandemic

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University of Witwatersrand

This piece was originally published in The Forge on August 27th, 2020.

We have all spent the bulk of this year at home, yet law enforcement has managed to kill more people from January 1-June 30, 2020 than they did during that same period in the past five years. As healthcare and other frontline workers fight to obtain personal protective equipment and medical supplies, police officers across the country — fully equipped with PPE, tear gas, batons, and tanks — attack protesters who continue to demand that “Black Lives Matter.” 

But society is catching on, framing COVID-19 and structural racism as intersecting pandemics — which makes the debut of From Enforcers to Guardians: A Public Health Primer on Ending Police Violence right on time. As ethnographic researchers and artists, we appreciate that the book, written by Drs. Hannah Cooper and Mindy Thompson Fullilove, begins and ends with a poem: Ross Gay’s poignant meditation about Eric Garner (may he rest in power!) and his work in the NYC Horticultural Department, “making it easier/for us to breathe.”