Hospital holds kneel-in against racial injustice

Members of the public, county government, and MVCS show their support.


As protests over the death of George Floyd continue across the country, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital staff and patients, along with all six of the Island’s police chiefs, gathered outside at the hospital’s healing garden to participate in a nine-minute kneel-in in recognition of Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died after former police Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to his neck for almost 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

The kneel-in was led by hospital administrative director Thaddeus Thompson, who was joined by his wife Sheryl Taylor, and their daughter Leelyn Taylor Thompson. The family held signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “All lives cannot matter until Black Lives Matter.”

Motioning to the police chiefs who attended the kneel-in, Thompson said, “A number of people doing bad things is not reflective of the entire community.”

“The expectation with all of this is equality,” an emotional Thompson said. “It takes all of us to step up and not be willing to accept any of those actions, to recognize those actions, to call those actions out.”

Those attending applauded Thompson before taking a knee in silence.

After the kneel-in, hospital CEO Denise Schepici said she was proud of the diversity and values at the hospital, and that the Island’s hospital should be an example for the whole community. “Thank you all for being here today and all you do,” Schepici said.

Down the road, Eugene Jemison stood at Five Corners holding up a sign reading “I can’t breathe” as several passersby honked in support.

Jemison, whom The Times wrote about in November when he got married at the hospital, said he was there because of his son. “It’s happened so many countless times,” he said of innocent, unarmed black people being murdered. “I have no answers for my 7-year-old son.”

After the news and video of Floyd’s death, Jemison said he spoke with his son about race, but at times was at a loss for words. “It sickens me to my heart to have that talk with my son,” he said. “We have to do better. I have no respect for racists at all.”

Meanwhile, the Dukes County Commission adopted a social justice resolution Thursday. “The Dukes County Commission joins with Americans across the country in affirming the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, to make visible the pain of our fellow Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of unarmed African Americans,” the resolution states.

Tristan Israel, chair of the Dukes County Commissioners, said, “There was really no debate about it.”

Commissioner Keith Chatinover, who proposed the resolution, texted that the stance is in accord with the Island community. “Our community has spoken loud and clear that they support the Black Lives Matter movement, and I’m glad the County Commission affirmed its support as well,” he wrote. “Of course, that is just a start. We must all become better allies to the black communities on Martha’s Vineyard.”

Chatinover also encouraged folks to buy from black-owned businesses on the Vineyard.

Similarly, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services issued a statement on antiracism that acknowledged the systematic racism that has gone on for generations.

“Here at M.V. Community Services, we believe the dignity, health, safety, and well-being of individuals and families we serve are rights, not privileges. Our clients and our staff are ethnically and racially diverse, and we view our mixed backgrounds and experiences as a source of strength. We are better educators, clinicians, and counselors not in spite of our differences, but because of them,” the statement reads in part. “This is a moment to reaffirm our values. These are times that test us to our core. Know that here at Community Services we hope to always be a resource and a place to find strength in community.”


  1. I don’t get it. Aren’t we all participating in a “safer at home” order because our hospitals are overwhelmed by this pandemic? How did they find the time to do this demonstration? Was this on company time or during their break period? Why isn’t the hospital CEO masked?

      • Answer my questions and enlighten me. Are covid patients being left unattended during this walkout? We’ve been told our hospitals are in crisis mode, how did they find the time to do this? I respect their intentions but is covid the crisis they are fighting or is it political correctness? If you had a loved one fighting any sort of illness in the hospital would you support this walkout or would you prefer they were being taken care of and these employees could protest on their own time? Think what you will but the hospital is a ghost town these days and most staff have little to occupy their time. We need to get it back to normal procedures before there’s the obligatory hand wringing about it losing money and facing bankruptcy.

        • The hospital has reported repeatedly that it has no patients hospitalized for COVID-19. The three patients who have been sick enough to be hospitalized were either airlifted or left the Island on their own to be hospitalized off-Island.

        • “the hospital is a ghost town these days and most staff have little to occupy their time. ” Who told you this? Really, who told you this?

    • yeah, Bs — I get it that you don’t get it. trump managed to find time to play golf last week. These health care front line providers took a few minutes to show support for all the organizations supporting them . And you find some way to criticize them ? give us a break.

  2. Grateful to all the Staff at MVH, Island Police Chiefs, and other community leaders for taking a stand at this Kneel-In event. Perhaps they did this on their own time, but since caring for our community is job #1 and healing, whether clinically, or socially is the ultimate goal, it wouldn’t bother me if they were on the clock. Money well spent!

  3. OMG BS
    I’m just puzzled by your thoughts.
    If you look closely at Denise she has a mask and it was likely taken off so she could speak clearly about this very important issue.
    As stated a million times now a mask is only required when a 6’ social distance is not possible.
    I have a question that I have tried to ask 3 times now but it never makes the cut so I’m going to try and say it in a different way and hope it gets through this time.
    My question to you or anyone else for that matter is how and why?
    I don’t understand How and Why anyone can judge a person by the color of their skin? Can you or anyone else please tell me what goes on in the mind of a racist person? What makes a person think like this and why?
    I just don’t don’t understand it.
    I have asked this question personally face to face several times in my life and never get an answer. I’m most often told to go F:;& myself or they just walk away. Maybe if it can be explained anonymously I will get an honest answer.

  4. Thank you to our island heroes – not just in time of pandemic or social upheaval, but 24/7, 365.

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