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Post-Floyd Fallout Takes Toll on Black Mental Health

A nationwide poll finds that 44% of Black adults said it’s harder to get through daily tasks after learning of violence against Black people, and more than half of respondents reported feeling ongoing sadness, anger and fear about police violence, the New York Times reports. The Times commissioned the study by Morning Consult to mark the third anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and to measure the ongoing fallout from a case that sparked widespread protests. In other findings from the survey, which Times reporters supplemented with in-depth interviews with 110 Black people across generations and socioeconomic groups, 79% of Black parents said police violence affects their mental health, 22% sought mental health counseling over the issue, and 38% of Black people said they still feel anxious when they see an officer. “You’re always on alert, you’re always on guard, you know, your blood pressure is up, your heart rate goes up and stuff like that," said Derrick Benson of San Francisco. The findings mirror a a 2021 study in which researchers examined emergency room data from hospitals across five states. They found a correlation between police killings of unarmed Black people and a rise in depression-related E.R. visits among Black people.

The Associated Press did its own assessment of other aspects of the Floyd case's legacy after three years, concluding that public policies failed to meet the high hopes of reformers and protesters in the immediate aftermath of Floyd's murder. Proponents of federal actions — such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and changing the so-called qualified immunity protections for law enforcement — still await change. Soon after Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis adopted a number of changes, including bans on chokeholds and neck restraints, and requirements that police try to stop fellow officers from using improper force. Lawmakers in Minnesota approved statewide police accountability packages in 2020 and 2021, as well as tight restrictions on no-knock warrants just this month. The city is still awaiting the results of a federal investigation into whether its police have engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. A similar investigation by the state Department of Human Rights led to what it called a “court-enforceable settlement agreement” in March to revamp policing in the city. The federal investigation could lead to a similar but separate agreement with the city called a consent decree. Police in several other cities already operate under such oversight for civil rights violations, showing improvement of changes in the criminal justice system. "You have to have the faith that it will happen because it didn’t happen overnight for Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X. It didn’t happen overnight for Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson,” said Terrence Floyd, George Floyd's brother. “You can’t expect it to happen overnight for us, but it will happen." Democratic U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, is not so optimistic. “When people casually, and I think too frequently, say that there is some sort of racial reckoning that we’re in the midst of, I see no evidence of that,” she said during a recent press conference convened by a Black Lives Matter collective.


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