Michael Bryant / AP
PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia issued an apology Thursday for unethical medical experiments performed on mostly Black inmates at Holmesburg Prison between the 1950s and 1970s.
The move comes after community activists and the families of some inmates raised demands for a formal apology. It also follows a string of apologies from various US cities over historic racist policies or wrongdoing following the nationwide racial calculation following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer. Minneapolis police.
The city allowed University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Albert Kligman to conduct dermatological, biochemical, and pharmaceutical experiments aimed at exposing approximately 300 inmates to viruses, fungi, asbestos, and other harmful agents. Chemical agents include dioxin – a component of Agent Orange. The majority of Kligman’s experiments were performed on Black men, many of whom are awaiting trial and trying to save money for bail, and many of whom are illiterate, the city said. .
Kligman, who went on to pioneer the acne and wrinkle treatment Retin-A, died in 2010. Many of the former inmates will suffer lifelong scars and health problems following the experiments. . A group of inmates filed a lawsuit against the university and Kligman in 2000 but was ultimately dropped because of the statute of limitations.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in his apology that the experiments exploited a vulnerable population and that the effects of that medical racism have lasted for generations.
“Without making excuses, we sincerely and officially apologize to those who have been subjected to this inhuman and terrible abuse. We also apologize for taking so long to hear the stories. this word,” Kenney wrote.
Last year, the University of Pennsylvania issued a formal apology and removed Kligman’s name from some honorifics such as its annual lecture series and professorship. The university also directs research funds to fellows focusing on dermatological problems in people of color.