ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis County's acting health director admitted to giving someone the middle finger after Tuesday's council meeting about the county's reinstated mask mandate, saying he 'cannot say I am sorry,' adding he was physically and verbally assaulted during and after his presentation.
Dr. Faisal Khan told News 4, "It was visceral and primeval in a way that I cannot describe. And I left feeling scared for my own personal safety and that of my loved ones. And so, yes, I requested and received a security detail."
Khan appeared to the meeting on Tuesday to present data and answer questions about the mask mandate. On Wednesday, he sent a letter to County Councilwoman Rita Heard Days saying he faced discriminations. Read the full letter here or at the bottom of the story.
“I have never been subjected to the racist, xenophobic and threatening behavior that greeted me in the County Council meeting last night,” Khan wrote.
Khan said the crowd at the meeting was already energized from an anti-mask rally earlier, but that councilman Tim Fitch made matters worse by asking a question that Khan said painted him as a foreigner who wasn't a real doctor.
When Fitch asked Khan to come to the podium, he asked, "Are you a physician in the United States?"
Khan has been a United States citizen since 2012 and has worked in public health for 25 years.
Fitch told News 4 he used a phrase that Khan had used at his confirmation hearing.
"I was merely repeating exactly what he said to us, confirming you are not a licensed physician in the United States and he acknowledged that and then moved on," Fitch said.
Khan said while he was answering questions from council members, he heard racist comments whispered by people in the crowd. He heard people mocking his accent while he was presenting and said some were doing their impersonation of The Simpson's character, Apu.
Council Chairwoman Rita Heard-Days said if the accusations are true the behavior is unconscionable.
"This is unacceptable. I'm a Black woman in America and I know well how that feels and I don't want that for anyone. So I will be looking into this very, very seriously," she said.
Khan said as he was exiting through the lobby he was shoulder-bumped but couldn't say if it was intentional or accidental. And he said he was surrounded by an angry crowd when he got closer to the exit, "where members of the crowd yelled at me, calling me a "fat brown c***," and a "brown bastard."
Khan said the most disappointing part about the experience was that his important health message - wearing masks can prevent more deaths and misery - was lost amidst the racism and rowdiness.