Local healthcare workers hold 'White Coats For Black Lives' protest

UNIVERSITY CITY (WPVI) -- The silence at Franklin Field held for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

"Our knees are going to hurt and that is the point. We have been comfortable for too long," Dr. Florencia Greer-Polite of Penn Medicine told the crowd before the protest began.

Each person knelt on one knee, painfully aware of every tick of the clock that went by and what every second meant.

"Eight minutes and 46 seconds is the length of time George Floyd suffered under the knee of a police officer before dying," said Dr. Greer-Polite.

The protest was called "White Coats for Black Lives," and at 1 p.m. Friday, similar protests were happening with hospital workers all around the Philadelphia area.

Doctors, nurses, and medical students from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Penn Hosptial, Virtua Health in New Jersey, Temple University Hospital, PCOM and many more all knelt at the same time together in solidarity.

"In the last few weeks, we have seen what the last 400 years have taught us. We actually have a racism problem and it's important we address it head on," said Dr. Greer-Polite.

"Being 65, I got 65 years of this so I'm just praying for peace that some people open their eyes and see this needs to stop because it will only get worse," said Kathey Lowery of Penn Medicine.

When the clock hit zero, the healthcare workers went back to work, knowing full well another battle was waiting for them inside.

"What does COVID-19 have to do with racism? We know black patients are dying at higher rates and systemic racism, we know that black people are being affected disproportionately," said Dr. Greer-Polite.

Dr. Polite also said while she thinks the protest was a powerful statement, it's just the beginning of the fight. She hopes everyone who participated will continue to do their part.
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