Doctors among those protesting Trump at GOP convention

July 22, 2016

Amid chants of “love trumps hate,” and outnumbered by police and reporters, about 150 members of the doctors group Stand Together Against Trump (STAT) marched in Cleveland on Thursday afternoon to show their opposition to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Kathy Smith, NPAmid chants of “love trumps hate,” and outnumbered by police and reporters, about 150 members of the doctors group Stand Together Against Trump (STAT) marched in Cleveland on Thursday afternoon to show their opposition to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Under bright sun and in temperatures approaching 90 degrees, the physicians, nurses and other clinicians marched over Cleveland’s iconic, mile-long Hope Memorial Bridge spanning the Cuyahoga River. They were accompanied by members of other groups opposed to Trump, such as Code Pink and Black Lives Matter. Many of the demonstrators carried signs denouncing Trump. Security was much in evidence along the route, and police separated the marchers from a handful of noisy pro-Trump demonstrators at the start of the march.

 

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In an earlier interview with Medical Economics, STAT founder Bryan Hambley, MD, explained that the march was not directed against the Republican party, but rather to demonstrate their opposition to Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements.

Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, MD, MPH

Many of those who took part in the demonstration were similarly motivated. “I think it was just time for us to say we don’t think that America should be led by someone with this kind of rhetoric,” said Prashanth Thakker, MD, of Dayton, Ohio, a chief resident in internal medicine at a Cleveland-area hospital and colleague of Hambley’s.

“As a nation, we’re built on acceptance of various religions and diversity. Most folks in the U.S. are immigrants or descended from immigrants,” he said. “So to say we are going to build a wall against one facet of the world community didn’t sit well with us.”

 

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Kathy Smith, a nurse practitioner in a Fort Wayne, Indiana palliative care practice and mother of one of the march’s organizers, said “We wanted to get the word out there that the hate and sexism and anti-immigrant sentiments we’ve seen from the Trump campaign are not our sentiments. We wanted to put out a more positive message to counteract that.”

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Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, MD, MPH, a physical medicine and rehabilitation practitioner in New Orleans, Louisiana, said she took part in the march because “I was sick and tired of hearing the hateful rhetoric Donald Trump has been espousing over the last several months. I think the country’s really hurting now and looking for someone to bring us together and be a uniter, and that’s not what we’re hearing from Donald Trump.”

Prashanth Thakker, MD

She noted that foreign-born physicians often are the ones providing medical care in inner cities, rural communities and other medically underserved areas.” These people are really serving our citizens and they are doing it in some places that other people are not going. That’s an important piece of this,” she said.

 

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Kurtz-Burke was accompanied by her mother. “I was on her back in a sling as a baby when she protested the Vietnam war, so I guess you could say we’ve come full circle,” she laughed.

In the evening, as the final night of the convention got under way, STAT was among several anti-Trump groups holding protest vigils on Cleveland’s Public Square.