UE's officers released the following statement today on the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
It is with shock and horror that we watched the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minnesota this week. Along with the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, it serves as a reminder that Black lives simply do not matter to many of the people who run our society or the police forces who enforce their laws.
It is not surprising that protests over Floyd’s and Taylor’s killings have erupted into rage. It has been almost six years since the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, focused our nation’s attention on police violence against people of color and poor people, and especially against Black men. Black Lives Matter, the Movement for Black Lives and many others have offered concrete policy proposals to address this injustice, yet little has been done and the killings continue.
Floyd’s murder occurred in the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately killing people of color and immigrant workers. The insistence by corporate bosses and politicians that workers in industries such as meatpacking continue to work and risk their lives, and their refusal to provide adequate safety measures for frontline essential workers, is yet another reminder of how little they value the lives of people of color and other working people.
Those calling for a “law and order” response to the protests in Minnesota and Kentucky are merely inflaming the situation. Violent suppression of protests against injustice has never worked, and should be of special concern to those of us in the labor movement, as the police and national guard have regularly been used to break strikes.
The only answer is to take bold and concrete steps to address the racial injustice that continues to plague our nation. We must not only ensure swift prosecution of police officers who murder people, but also eliminate the vast racial disparities in income, wealth, and access to healthcare and education.
As the UE Policy “Fight Racism” states, “Working-class unity can never be taken for granted. Winning depends upon our success in the fight against racism.” We call on the labor movement and all working people to stand in solidarity with our Black brothers, sisters and siblings, and to redouble our efforts to fight for racial justice.
Director of Organization