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Nurses, still fighting coronavirus, serve as medics at George Floyd protests

Nurses, still fighting coronavirus, serve as medics at George Floyd protests
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Nurses treating coronavirus patients have attended multiple protests over the killing of George Floyd to act as medics to protesters hit with tear gas and pepper spray.

Clips have circulated on Twitter of nurses in numerous cities providing medical assistance to Black Lives Matter protesters, including in Minneapolis, where the demonstrations began after Floyd died in police custody last week.

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The deaths of black men at the hands of police is particularly relevant for people of color in the nursing profession, Martha Dawson, president of the National Black Nurses Association, told Refinery29.

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“For nurses of color working on the frontlines, it’s disheartening to still realize that you’re living in a country where you’re under-appreciated and judged, first, on the color of your skin, rather than the content of your character,” Dawson said. “And you have to recognize that the concern with the death in Minnesota is just now emerging as one stressor on top of the many stressors of the pandemic.”

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses’ union, also issued a statement in support of the protests.

“Nurses know that racism is a public health crisis, whether in societal practices that have contributed to the disproportionate COVID-19 deaths of African Americans or the deaths of African Americas at the hands of police. It is incumbent on all of us to work for systemic change,” Nurses United President Jean Ross, a resident of Minnesota, said in a statement.

“Nurses care for all patients, regardless of their gender, race, religion or other status. We expect the same from the police. Unfortunately, nurses continue to see the devastating effects of systematic racism and oppression targeting people of color in our communities,” the Minnesota Nurses Association, a Nurses United affiliate, said. “We demand justice for George Floyd and a stop to the unnecessary death of black men at the hands of those who should protect them.”

Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes despite Floyd’s protests that he was unable to breathe. Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder, and the incident has led to a week of protests in cities across the nation, many of which have turned violent.