AFGE announced full support and solidarity for the Black Lives Matter cause, calling for racial justice, police accountability, and police reforms following the killing of George Floyd in police custody that sparked massive protests here in the U.S. and around the world.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 after being pinned down by a police officer’s knee to his neck. He begged for his life, telling the officer he could not breathe.
From London to Philadelphia, people have been taking to the streets, shocked and appalled by police brutality and Floyd’s resulting death – the latest in a series of unacceptable killings, imprisonment, and mistreatment of black Americans, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and many others before them.
“As an American, a part of my soul left me as I watched that beautiful young life leave Mr. Floyd on the pavement at the hands of those who were sworn to protect him,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “As a black man, husband, and father - raised in the Jim Crow South and living in a nation where black bodies continue to be assaulted with impunity every day - I know I am not alone in feeling the indignation, the anxiety, the rage that comes from knowing it just as well could have been my son or nephew that perished beneath that callous officer’s knee.”
“This must end here. This can never be normal again. This generation - the young men and women of all races thronging the streets across America - are crying out for an end to racism once and for all,” Kelley added. “I too will dedicate every ounce of influence and fiber of my being I can muster to realize the dream of America for all my brothers and sisters to come.”
AFGE’s National Executive Council (NEC) voiced full support for Black Lives Matter.
“We are proud to give our full support and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter cause, to support the peaceful protesters on the streets across our country calling for change, and to join their calls for racial justice and specific policy proposals that will help our country achieve those ends,” the NEC said in a June 8 statement. “We support their call for more police accountability and for a reallocation of resources from militarized policing and toward community redevelopment and education. We will promote their push for economic policies that help eliminate the myriad ways that racial inequality continues to plague our nation.”
The NEC added that, “we strongly reject the false choice between ‘law and order’ and Black Lives Matter and the struggle to attain full economic and racial justice. We respect the law, but the president and law enforcement must respect it as well. As a union, we have a responsibility to fight racial injustice head on – inside our union and outside of it.”
The NEC said AFGE is committed to ongoing education among our union’s members and leaders to help us tackle these issues and help our members address issues of racism in their union or their workplace.
“By taking these actions, we intend to create a future where our AFGE colors of blue and gold become synonymous with a union membership who has learned how to provide meaningful support in the struggle for real equality for all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, religion, ethnicity, or other difference.”