April 11, 2021 – Attention to the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in Floyd’s system following his death goes beyond the courtroom: Duke University is investigating the posting of Floyd’s toxicology report on a Black History Month display with a handwritten note that read, in part, “Mix of drugs presents in difficulty breathing! Overdose? Good Man?” In Denver, someone spray painted “Fentanyl Floyd” over a mural depicting his image. Social media abounds with vitriolic comments about Floyd’s addiction and relapse.

“You don’t ever hear a cancer patient being talked about negatively,” said Mohammad. “Substance abuse disorder is a disease of the brain. but when it comes to African Americans, it’s like we’re not treated like we have a disease.”

Minnesota is a national destination for people seeking addiction treatment, but its recovery community is mostly white. In 1976, Peter Hayden opened Turning Point after seeing the need for rehab programs welcoming to Black men, and he and his staff have heard many clients recount their struggles with racism, police harassment, poverty and incarceration.

Floyd came to Turning Point from Houston but relapsed off and on after leaving the program, according to his girlfriend Courteney Ross, and in 2019 he told police officers after a traffic stop that he had a painkiller addiction. Hayden was dismayed to see how critics have used Floyd’s past to disparage him in his police encounter.

“We’re always seen as a perpetrator rather than a victim,” Hayden said of African Americans.



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