Illinois Governor: 'Dangerous To Pretend' Racism Doesn't Kill Black People

WBBM Newsradio Staff
May 27, 2020 - 3:40 pm
JB Pritzker In E St Louis

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker appears in East St. Louis (Facebook)

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday used his coronavirus briefing to comment on the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died after being pinned by a white police officer in Minneapolis over the weekend.

Pritzker said it's the latest in a series of ugly incidents that demonstrate how African Americans bear an "extra burden" during the already stressful COVID-19 crisis.

“Being black in America cannot be a death sentence, but it is, in some ways it is,” Pritzker said during an appearance in East St. Louis. “And it’s dangerous to pretend otherwise. We must actually do something to change that reality, to make it so that men like George Floyd are not killed on a street corner gasping for air, in broad daylight, one moment alive, in the next moment gone.”

Viral video showed a white police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck as he said he couldn't breathe. Floyd, who was handcuffed at the time, was later pronounced dead at a hospital. On Tuesday, four police officers were fired, and local and federal investigations were announced.

Pritzker noted other racially charged incidents, including the harassment of a black bird-watcher by a white woman in New York's Central Park. 

He said as a white elected official he felt and obligation to address the issue and hopefully influence public policy in Illinois that may combat lingering racism. 

Pritkzer was in East St. Louis to help show off a new coronavirus testing facilty. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,111 new cases of the virus, including 160 additional deaths related to COVID-19. To date, Illinois has reported 114,306 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 5,038 deaths.