Around 40 students from the UC San Diego School of Medicine Student National Medical Association (SNMA) participated in the White Coats For Black Lives National Die-In to stand against police brutality on April 17 at the Silent Tree, in front of Geisel Library.
Medical students across the nation organized die-ins on their respective campuses to be held around noon to “stand in solidarity with victims of police violence, demand accountability from those in power, and urge healthcare institutions to provide greater trauma-informed care to afflicted communities.”
Those who participated in the event laid around the Silent Tree for approximately 20 minutes while holding signs that read “Stand Against Structural Racism,” “My Humanity is Not Up For Debate,” and “Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere.” Afterwards, four participants stood and delivered facts about the recent police shooting and murder of Stephon Clark on March 18 in Sacramento, CA. The 20 minutes of silence were meant to represent the 20 shots police fired at Clark.
The principal organizers of the event included UCSD medical students Betial Asmerom and Saniya Kishnani. Kishnani is also leader of Medical Students for Justice (MS4J), a student-run organization dedicated to “eliminating health disparities” through improving public and community health as well as enforcing social justice in the San Diego area. Asmerom expressed how the UCSD Die-In was partially in honor of Stephon Clark, but also a way to use the privileges students have in order to generate conversation and inform others of the issues within the United States.
“We came out here to stand together as a community to really show that we have a voice and we have a duty to use them,” Asmerom said.
Imani Law, co-president of UCSD’s SNMA chapter, expressed a call to action to spectators of the event and also spoke on the intersectionality of police brutality with issues such as health care, basic needs insecurity, gun violence, and racialization of Native American and Latinx communities.
“It’s important to, in your everyday lives, consider the ways in which you can use the powers and privileges you have to make space and give voice to those suffering at the hands of police brutality,” Law said. “Also, remember, there’s really not several individual movements, but one movement. A movement for justice. Because justice for one is not justice for all.”
Matthew Rom-Toribio is a Staff Writer at The Triton.
This article was updated on April 17 at 6:00 p.m. to include Kishnani’s role as principal organizer and to explain the significance of the 20 minutes (not 15 minutes as previously stated) of the die-in.