Our North Minneapolis clinic was ransacked and damaged after the murder of George Floyd. We’re not mad (at protestors).

Andrea Westby
4 min readJun 4, 2020

We are family physicians and educators who provide full spectrum care in the Hawthorne neighborhood of North Minneapolis. Hawthorne is one of the 7 North Minneapolis neighborhoods that has experienced systemic and structural racism and disinvestment by the city and those in power since the early 1900s. North Minneapolis has experienced de-funding of local social services and safety nets, over-policing, redlining, school neglect, excessive air and environmental pollution, predatory lending, slum leasing, and attempted silencing of strong and vibrant community leadership. And yet, North still somehow is an amazing, resilient, thriving community of primarily African Americans, Hmong, and African immigrants, and its strength is unparalleled.

Our clinic has been in North Minneapolis in the strip mall near the U.S. Bank for 20 years and on Broadway for over 40 years. The majority of our patients are local residents and Medicaid or Medicare recipients. We’re here for pregnant people and their babies, for teens in their athletic prime, for people with disabilities, mental illness, and multiple chronic health needs, for those who want office based medication treatment for opioid and alcohol use disorders, for sexual and gender minorities looking for inclusive primary care, and for those nearing the end of their lives. Simply put, we are there for the people of the community in sickness and in health, wellness or injury. We care and we are here.

On Monday evening May 25, George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes while Mr. Floyd was handcuffed, prone, and calling out for help.

“I can’t breathe.”

For 3 days, communities in Minneapolis and the surrounding metro experienced the burning of righteous fire and rage that was sparked by Mr. Floyd’s death, in response to decades of oppression, racism, and violence. On Thursday night May 28, the Broadway Avenue corridor surrounding our clinic experienced similar violence, and our clinic was damaged. We were forced to close our doors temporarily to protect patients and staff on May 29 while we re-group and rebuild the physical space, although we have continued uninterrupted virtual care, and plan to be back in our space within a week.

We have a lot of emotions right now…

We are afraid for our patients and community because the pharmacies they depend on to provide medications and important supplies have been damaged and are indefinitely closed.

We are concerned about how people will get food, formula, and diapers when our grocery stores and convenience stores are closed. The lack of public transportation means many people are stranded without resources, which is exacerbated by the pandemic.

We worry about the health of our patients who are unable to complete the telephone or video visits that we are offering instead of in-person visits, or those who need urgent medical care we cannot provide.

But we are not mad

We are not mad at protestors, rioters, or those whose anger, fear, and pain boiled over and spilled into our physical clinic space.

We are enraged that our community has been ignored and dismissed for decades and that it required generations of toxic rage overflowing to get the attention of those in power.

We are outraged that people in power could have chosen to make this different, could have chosen to express values of justice, equity, and reparations, and didn’t.

We are incensed that health inequities experienced by people of color are attributed to individual choices and behaviors instead of the impact of historical trauma and chronic toxic stress.

We are frustrated that our own medical systems would rather focus on finding “genetic” or “biological” reasons for poorer outcomes than to address the racism and structural determinants at the core.

We are angry that the dignity and humanity of Black and Brown people are repeatedly and systematically ignored and violated.

We are furious that Minnesota is touted as exceptional in so many ways, except if you aren’t white.

In the poetic words of local activist D.A. Bullock, we understand the anger and despair that has led to the “harnessing [of] revolutionary fire.” We aren’t mad at that.

Justice and accountability are more valuable than property.

And as for us, we aren’t leaving. We will continue to work in and with our community in the ways we can.

Northside Emergency Pop Up, organized by community members to provide food, diapers, formula, personal hygiene and cleaning supplies. Broadway Family Medicine joined the efforts to provide medical supplies and OTC meds.

We have been here to care for a vibrant and thriving North Minneapolis, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Andrea Westby, MD and Renee Crichlow, MD are family physicians who practice in North Minneapolis.