A trio of medical societies issued an urgent letter to denounce the racism and violence unfolding in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
The letter, dated May 30 (five days after Floyd was killed in Minneapolis), was issued by the Association of Black Cardiologists and its cardiovascular partners, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
Signed by the presidents of all three societies, Dr. Michelle Albert (ABC), Dr. Robert Harrington (AHA) and Dr. Athena Poppas (ACC), the letter highlighted that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for communities of color, and that societies are disturbed by the “violent acts that cut to the core of the lives of our community.”
The letter highlighted Floyd’s death, along with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., the death of emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor in her Louisville, Ky., home at the hands of police, and the accusations Christian Cooper faced while bird watching in New York City’s Central Park.
According to the letter, grief and stress triggered by the recent events and the consequences for black lives all contribute significantly to cardiovascular risk.
“Thus, we stand and link arms in solidarity with efforts to dismantle systems that maintain excess morbidity and mortality, especially among vulnerable populations and those historically oppressed,” the letter said. “Indeed, our collective vast membership, many of whom are at the frontlines of clinical healthcare, has taken an oath to decisively and with kindness, compassion and grace act to relieve suffering related to ‘I can’t breathe’ in order to preserve life.”
The trio of cardiovascular societies join a number of entities in the medical space who have given their input on the recent events. Just last week, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a letter condemning the use of rubber bullets and similar projectiles by law enforcement as protests continue in response to Floyd’s death and racial injustice.