U of M center blames ‘white supremacy’ for Memphis incident, mass shootings

Tyre Nichols' death, even though it came at the hands of five black police officers, occurred because of "pervasive structural racism."

Entrance to the campus of the University of Minnesota (Shutterstock)

A division of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health has blamed “white supremacy” for recent deadly incidents in the United States not involving any whites.

In a Friday email, the school’s Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity (CARHE) commented on the death of 29-year-old black man Tyre Nichols, who was brutally beaten on Jan. 7 while under arrest in Memphis, Tenn. He died in the hospital three days after the incident.

CARHE’s statement says that Nichols’ death, even though it came at the hands of five black police officers, occurred because of “pervasive structural racism” against black Americans.

“The patterns of discrimination, surveillance, harassment, and violence perpetrated against Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities throughout the U.S. are not simple misunderstandings. The killings, terror, and oppression are a direct result of anti-Black racist attitudes, policies, procedures, and leadership that pervade our institutions,” the statement reads.

CARHE was founded in February 2021 thanks to a $5 million donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Craig Samitt, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, said in a statement at the time that CARHE “will serve as a catalyst to advance health equity and dismantle racism from the structure and fabric of our society.”

In its Friday email, CARHE also appeared to claim that “white supremacy and structural racism” were responsible for two “anti-Asian” mass shootings in California, even though both suspects in those shootings were of Asian descent.

“Anti-Black and anti-Asian violence, while not the same, stem from the same sources: white supremacy and structural racism. Together, white supremacy and structural racism systematically erase the fundamental dignity and worth of racialized people,” the statement reads.

On Jan. 21, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, killing 11 people and injuring nine others. The victims were ostensibly taking part in a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration.

After fleeing the scene, Tran himself died the following day from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a police standoff. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear.

Then on Jan. 23, seven were shot dead and one injured in a mass shooting at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay, Calif., a suburb of San Francisco. The suspect is Chunli Zhao, a 66-year-old Chinese national.

Zhao, who admitted to the shooting in a courthouse interview last week, reportedly told authorities he snapped after a supervisor demanded $100 to repair a damaged forklift. He also claimed he was mistreated at work, with his complaints apparently falling on deaf ears.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.