Medical Students Across the Country Stage ‘White Coat Die-In’ to Stand Against Police Violence and Racism

On Wednesday, the ongoing protests across the country received the support of students from over 70 medical schools as those donning white coats with a mission to heal the sick, took a stand against police violence and racism with a “die-in”.

The protest could not have been staged on a better day, as Wednesday also marked the  64th International Human Rights Day. A day when people around the world join together to get their voices and messages heard in a call for change and action.

There were reported to be hundreds of medical students involved in the “die-in’s”, which served as a way to express their views on the recent decisions doled out by grand juries not to indict the police officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Medical students could be seen holding signs that read similar sentiments to those reverberating around the country in the weeks since the the decisions were released. Signs reading “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot” and “We Can’t Breathe” evoked the intensity of the protests feelings about the cases where mere spoken words would not do. Their voices did not remain silent, however, as students could be heard collectively chanting “White Coats 4 Black Lives” as bodies began to line the sterile halls of hospital wings and dirt caked sidewalks. Lying still as a testament to lives lost and questions unanswered.

Many groups of medical students marked their “die-in’s” with poignant silences to represent the four and a half hours that Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after he was killed. Many students felt that the silence was the loudest statement made and that the longer the it lasted the bigger the impact.

The nationwide “die-in” was a joint effort among medical students and was even supported by Students for a National Health Program, an organization containing well over 19,000 doctors, health care professionals and students entering the medical field with a common goal to garner better medicare on a universal level.

The organization released a statement on their website that reads as follows, “We as medical students feel that this is an important time for medical institutions to respond to the violence and race-related trauma that affect our communities and the patients we serve. We feel it is essential to begin a conversation about our role in addressing the explicit and implicit discrimination and racism in our communities and reflect on the systemic biases embedded in our medical education curricula, clinical learning environments, and administrative decision-making. We believe these discussions are needed at academic centers nationwide.”

Students at one medical school wrote, “By standing together at medical schools nationwide, we hope to demonstrate that the medical student community views racial violence as a public health crisis. We are #whitecoats4blacklives.”

It did not take long for the powerful pictures of the protests to spread throughout the various forms of social media with the hashtag #WhiteCoats4BlackLives driving the message home with an indelible visual impact.

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