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AFL-CIO seeks ‘tangible reform’ in wake of Jacob Blake shooting

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 28, 2020) — As the nation continues to reel from the latest police shooting of an unarmed Black man — Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back in front of his children in Kenosha, Wisc., and woke up paralyzed and handcuffed to his hospital bed — America’s labor movement is again calling for “tangible reform to break down systemic racism and inequality.”

At today’s March on Washington, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said the labor movement is committed to continuing to fight for a fairer and more just economy and society.

As the entire nation grapples with another horrifying incident of a Black man being shot in the back by a police officer, the labor movement remains committed to doing our part to bring long overdue racial and economic justice to our country,” reads an AFL-CIO statement. “We are proud to support the March on Washington, where thousands will come together to call for racial equality. In the face of COVID-19 and systemic racism, America’s unions are mobilizing like never before and we proudly stand in solidarity with all those exercising their rights to peacefully protest, whether it’s working people taking to the streets or athletes refusing to ‘shut up and play.’ We will not be silent. #BlackLivesMatter.”

On Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement regarding Blake’s shooting:

“The labor movement joins with all those in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and across the country who are nonviolently demanding an end to systemic racial injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake. Despite months of protest and the outpouring of heartfelt demands for change, incidents like these remain all too common and they shock our collective conscience. Actions that cheapen the lives of Black people and the service of good officers must be called out. As Americans, we must recognize the difference between right and wrong, and we must always stand up for what is right.”

The AFL-CIO’s Task Force on Racial Justice:

We are outraged at the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We pray for his full recovery and for his loved ones.

As details continue to come in, we cannot escape the images of a Black man being shot in the back in front of his children. What happened to Mr. Blake only strengthens our resolve to make sure Black Lives Matter in words and in deeds so we can heal our communities and our country. This is precisely why the AFL-CIO created the Task Force on Racial Justice and why we formed a subcommittee on policing.

A main objective of this critical work is to bring tangible reform to break down the systemic racism and inequality that have plagued our nation for too long and use our position as both members of our communities and representatives of law enforcement to build a better tomorrow. That’s how we can realize our goal of preventing future incidents like the one that unfolded in Kenosha.

The AFL-CIO Task Force on Racial Justice is chaired by United Steelworkers (USW) International Vice President and AFL-CIO Civil and Human Rights Committee Vice Chair Fred Redmond. Terry Melvin, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO, will serve as executive director. Other task force members include AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler; AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre; A. Philip Randolph Institute President Clayola Brown; UNITE HERE General Vice President Nia Winston; AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride; Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) General President Kenneth Rigmaiden; UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada; American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union-UFCW (RWDSU-UFCW) President Stuart Appelbaum; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Executive Director Alvina Yeh; and Bricklayers (BAC) Local 8 Southeast President Glenn Kelly.

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