Touro medical students hold 'die in' supporting protests across country

By John Glidden, Vallejo Times-Herald

Posted: 12/10/14, 5:13 PM PST

At exactly noon on Wednesday, around 50 Touro University California medical students “died” on the steps leading to Lander Hall, in solidarity with recent nationwide protests over the deaths of African-Americans Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City.

The students joined other medical school students conducting similar protests across the country on Wednesday.

Wearing their white medical coats and black arm bands, the students pretended to be dead for four-in-a-half minutes, each minute representing an hour Brown’s body lay in the street, after Brown was shot to death by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in early August.

“Racial violence is a public health crisis,” said Touro University California student Jeremy Mosher, via a bullhorn, before the protest began.

Garner died in mid-July after he was put into apparent choke hold by New York Police Officer Justin Damico, who is white.

Grand juries in both deaths recently declined to indict the officers.

“Racial bias and prejudice is pervasive in our society,” Mosher said after the silent protest.

“As medical students, in public health, we need to be aware of and concerned with this type of violence,” Mosher said about the circumstances around the deaths of Brown and Garner.

Mosher said that the day’s protest was to bring awareness to an issue in the medical field.

“Studies show that African-American medical patients receive less aggressive treatments than white patients,” Mosher said. “There is an inherent bias in the medical field and we need to bring awareness to this.”

“Students here care about what’s going on in Missouri and New York,” said TUC student Martha Benitez, after the protest. “We are having constructive dialogue about what happens in the medical and the justice systems.”

After the protest, a closed-door meeting was held, allowing interested TUC students to meet and speak about ethnicity and medicine and what the recent events surrounding Brown and Garner mean to the medical field.

“How can we be agents of change?” Benitez said. “It is really the beginning of a good conversation.”

“I’m very proud of the students and how professional they were as they carried out their event,” said TUC’s Provost and Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Hopkins, later in the day. “In all honesty, when I heard about the protest, I was not sure about it and how it would be handled but it was planned with professionalism and I couldn’t have hoped for a better result.”

Mosher said that the actual act of laying on the stairs was “sobering.”

“It’s a reminder of reality (on what) too many black men and women have to deal with on a daily basis,” he added. “It was a good opportunity to (be) in that uncomfortable (situation).”

Contact John Glidden at 707-553-6832.

Reach the author at jglidden@timesheraldonline.com or follow John on Twitter: @glid24.

Touro University California medical students stage a ‘die in’ Wednesday in solidarity of African-Americans Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were killed recently by white police officers. More than 50 students, wearing their white coats and black arm bands lay motionless for four and a half minutes. John Glidden — Vallejo Times-Herald
Touro University California medical students stage a ‘die in’ Wednesday in solidarity of African-Americans Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were killed recently by white police officers. More than 50 students, wearing their white coats and black arm bands lay motionless for four and a half minutes. John Glidden — Vallejo Times-Herald