News & Press: Press Release

SNMA is Appalled by the Recent Vandalism of the George Floyd Mural and Calls for Immediate Expulsion

Friday, August 28, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Health Policy
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SNMA is Appalled by the Recent Vandalism of the George Floyd Mural and Calls for Immediate Expulsion of Medical Student Perpetrator

Friday, August 28, 2020

Washington, DC 


On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, the well-known mural dedicated to George Floyd and located at the intersection where he was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota was defaced with black spray paint. Since its creation, the mural has been a global beacon for mourners and activists, and has served as an enduring symbol of the fight for the eradication of police brutality and systemic racism. This incident caused significant damage to the artwork that was created to honor George Floyd’s life and legacy. This crime of vandalism has sent waves of hurt, disappointment, and frustration throughout Black communities across the nation that are still grieving the injustices our communities have to endure daily. This hurt has been multiplied by the news that the perpetrator of this crime is a medical student -- a future physician -- at the University of Minnesota Medical School. This news was followed promptly with nationwide hurt and calls for the student to be immediately expelled from medical school. In response to the outcry for justice, University of Minnesota Medical School released a statement on August 20th addressing the defacement of George Floyd’s memorial. The statement does not adequately address the concerns expressed by students at the University of Minnesota, members of the medical community, and grieving Black communities across the country. Moreover, it offers a misleading and incomplete interpretation of the status and affiliation of the perpetrator to the University of Minnesota Medical School.


The SNMA denounces all acts of violence and racism and we emphasize that racism needs to be addressed in order to eliminate disparities in health outcomes. The psychological toll that events like these have on the Black community is immeasurable. We see the impact again in this situation, as evidenced by a statement made to the local media by Marcia Howard, a member of the security team for the memorial site. Howard states, “You would come to our neighborhood and do this why? Why? What’s enough? Further, neighborhood security declined to press charges against the perpetrator because they did not want police presence in the area. This is unsurprising, as according to a multi-level bayesian analysis of racial bias in police shootings at the county level from 2011-2014 in the United States,  the probability of being Black, unarmed, and shot by the police is approximately 3.49 times the probability of being White, unarmed, and shot by the police. This issue of police presence, and more specifically, police violence, is a major factor in neighborhood and physical environment as a social determinant of health (SDoH). As outlined in our recent report, Racism is a Public Health Issue, this, along with other social determinants of health, including economic instability, food insecurity, poor education, adverse childhood events (ACEs), negatively impacts health outcomes, both mental and physical, in communities of color. 


With this is mind, the SNMA calls for the following: 

  • The University of Minnesota Medical School must immediately expel Daniel Michelson from their institution and issue a follow up statement addressing the problematic nature of the statement released on August 20, 2020.

  • All medical institutions must commit to preserving and protecting the mental health of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members of their institution, including but not limited to providing spaces for BIPOC members to heal and grieve from events such as this.

  • All medical institutions must take firm and explicit actions that hold members of their institution accountable for promoting racist rhetoric and/or committing racist acts. Accountability must also be accompanied by reconciliation and rehabilitation (e.g., iterative anti-racism training) for these individuals and termination for those who do not agree to rehabilitation.

  • All medical institutions must require structural competency and anti-racism training for all members of their institution, including faculty and students, with the goal of providing the best care for all patients.

  • All medical institutions must support, rather than silence, their students’ and employees’ efforts to engage in social justice advocacy at the local, national, and international levels.


Resources on how to successfully pursue these recommendations, how people of color can engage in self care and racial trauma healing, and how you can continue to support the movement in Minneapolis can be found in the SNMA’s June 25, 2020 Solidarity Statement on Recent Events



Student National Medical Association (SNMA) 


Sign the petition created by University of Minnesota students

Press Contact:

Eloho Akpovi, MS & Justin Anderson

National Health Policy & Legislative Affairs Committee Chairpersons


About the Student National Medical Association

Founded in 1964 by medical students from Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is the nation’s oldest and largest, independent, student-governed organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color. The SNMA is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians.

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SNMA National Headquarters

5113 Georgia Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20011

Phone: (202) 882-2881

Fax: (202) 882-2886