As the Chairman of the Teamsters National Black Caucus, I am compelled to speak out about the senseless murder of brother George Floyd. I simply cannot understand, nor forgive, the police officers involved, nor the institutional racism that allowed for this unforgivable act. Sadly, police brutality against the Black and Brown community goes on daily, and has for deadly generations. For those who wish to disregard this racist violence and instead say “that’s what they deserve,” I say: NO!!!
Police officers are sworn to serve and protect, not to judge and execute. They failed to protect brother George Floyd, despite his and others’ cries for help.
The actions of the officers involved have shined a sad and heartbreaking light on America, and in turn, are bringing black families, friends and allies, other people of faith and goodwill, and communities, together across this country in a cry for racial justice. This movement is demanding justice for George Floyd and all the others who have been taken wrongfully. Black and brown communities are tired and outraged, we are mourning, and we acknowledge that anger, violence, destruction, sadness, fear, and confusion, are all relevant expressions, and far less violent, in a culture where the reckless and continuous murder of black bodies continues without abatement.
As a black man, I know what the fear feels like when I am approached by a cop; of being scared that I may not survive. America, we must wake up and stop the systemic racism. We must start calling out the wrongs of people from the top to the bottom. We must work towards institutional change. We must acknowledge that our country has been broken since its founding, and do something about it. We must come together.
As labor leaders and members, we can no longer stay silent when our member(s), brother(s), and/or sister(s), and others in law enforcement are wrong, and we should rightfully praise them when effective policing is done. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Nashville, and the police unions in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Los Angeles, have all condemned the killing of brother Floyd, and the brutal actions of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
Working people of America, we must root out racism, discrimination, bullying, abuses of power, and the disenfranchisement of all-American people, in our families, workplaces, institutions, and in our society.
We have the power to have our voices heard now, and always, not just in a time of a crisis. Stand with me. Let us continue to fight, demand, and win justice now and into the future!! We must hold our leaders accountable and uphold justice. We must vote in all of our city, state, and national elections from now until November and forever going forward. Stand strong brothers and sisters.
James “Curb” Curbeam