Medical Students Join National White Coat Die-In

Dozens of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine students recently participated in the National White Coat Die-In in response to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City.
The demonstration, coordinated with 70 schools nationally, took place Dec. 10 in front of the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building.

“The events in Ferguson, Missouri, drew a spotlight to the effects of racial bias within the justice system,” said second-year medical student Julien Thomas, who organized the rally, which drew students from the UM chapter of the Student National Medical Association, as well as residents and other supporters.

“We came together to affirm that we too understand the importance of police brutality as a public health issue, as well as our roles as advocates for patients in all communities across America,” said Thomas.

The simultaneous, coast-to-coast White Coat Die-In was organized by students from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and coincided with waves of protests that emerged after grand juries in Ferguson and New York City decided not to indict white police officers in the deaths of the unarmed black men.

Students positioned themselves on the ground. Some held signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “#whitecoats4blacklives.”

“Black men are disproportionately targeted and mistreated by a highly biased system that is responsible for their unnecessary institutionalization, brutalization and even death,” said Thomas. “The lack of an indictment of the killer of Eric Garner shows that there is still far more that needs to be done.”
While the protest was not sponsored by the University of Miami, students had the Miller School’s full support to assemble.

“As physicians and leaders of our community, we have a responsibility to take a stand against social injustices,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. “We are proud of our students who peacefully and respectfully voiced their concerns about the recent events along with other medical students nationally.”

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