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#WhiteCoatsforBlackLives: Medical Students Stage Nationwide Die-Ins

Coordinated protests at more than 70 medical schools are only latest sign of staying-power of growing movement for racial justice

Students at the Howard University College of Medicine participated in the #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives protests. (Photo: Twitter via @MissTayBlaze)

Medical students at universities across the United States held dramatic die-in protests on Wednesday to show their solidarity with a growing protest movement against police brutality and other forms of systematic inequality taking place in low-income areas and communities of color nationwide.

Dubbed #whitecoatsforblacklives, the coordinated demonstrations allowed students to add their unique perspective to the broader movement for racial and social justice that has accelerated in recent weeks following the lack of accountability in the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York City; and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio.

At the Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut, as the New Haven Register reports, students and some faculty members wore white lab coats during their campus protest as they called for justice in those and other cases.

"We stand here as part of a movement that has transcended all boundaries of time and place, a movement with a simple and straightforward goal: equitable treatment for all people," said Jessica Minor, a med student who addressed the crowd. "Today, we wear our white coats. These white coats have become a symbol of our privilege; a sign of our claim to medical knowledge, our professional oath to do no harm, and to the trust that comes with that knowledge and oath. ... We admit the exclusion of women and people of color in our profession."

Students at Johns Hopkins Medical School, one of the nation's premiere schools, also took part and said that racial disparities are a not only present in the way communities are policed, but also a large part of health inequities across the country.

“As future physicians being educated at the number one hospital in the country, or perhaps the world, I think it’s important to make it clear that equality matters, to make sure that fairness and equality exist in health care,” said first-year medical student Tania Haag.

This video captured the die-in held by students at the Harvard School of Medicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts while also doing a thorough job of articulating the position and demands of those who participated:

Similar protests were held at an estimated 70 other schools as well.


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United Press International reports on protests in California as well as Pennsylvania:

Lucy Ogbu Nwobodo, one of the organizers of the protest at the UC Davis Medical School in Sacramento, said the national discussion of the shooting of Michael Williams in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York "have affected all of us."

"We decided to come together as one voice to speak up about these issues," Nwobodo told Capital Public Radio. "We believe that because it affects our patients outside of the hospital it's just as important as what we see in the medical clinics." [...]

At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, protesters stopped traffic. About 100 students blocked Walnut Street by lying down.

"Protecting the citizens of this country is something that I've been doing since I got out of the military," Michael Spinnato, a first-year student at Penn, told KYW-TV.

The various die-ins and demonstrations were cataloged on Twitter:

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