It has been a tragedy-filled week for working people and their families. Here are some of the responses from our union sisters and brothers:
AFL-CIO, President Richard Trumka: "We mourn the loss of the officers who were shot in the line of duty in Dallas, protecting the right to protest peacefully. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families, the city of Dallas, and the nation. Violence is never the answer to violence, and two wrongs never make a right. As a nation and as people, we are defined by our values. We are better than this. We categorically reject the idea that anyone can justify anger by murdering police officers or civilians."
AFL-CIO, President Richard Trumka: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the two African-American men who were shot by police within 24 hours of each other. Racism plays an insidious role in the daily lives of all working people of color. This is a labor issue because it is a workplace issue; it is a community issue, and unions are the community. Philando Castile was a union member, and so his family is our family. Last year, the AFL-CIO launched a Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to address the issues faced by our brothers and sisters of color and to take a hard look at ourselves to ensure we practice what we preach. The commission aimed to educate working people on the way racism weakens the collective power of all working people."
AFSCME, President Lee Saunders: "The 1.6 million members of AFSCME are devastated by the assassination of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven others. Millions of law enforcement officers go to work each day to protect their communities, unsure whether they will come home at night. For five brave souls, that concern proved all too real. For law enforcement officers in Dallas and across America, the risk and worry no doubt feels heavier today. We owe them and their loved ones our prayers, our love and our gratitude. There is no excuse for this violence. None."
AFSCME, President Lee Saunders: "As a union that represents public service workers, including law enforcement officers, and is steeped in the history of civil rights, AFSCME has a unique perspective of the crisis roiling this country. And make no mistake: This is a crisis. Denying it is not an option. We must end the unacceptable violence that cut short the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, while honoring the millions of officers who do a dangerous job each day with dignity and respect for all. We are better than this."
AFT, President Randi Weingarten: "Our hearts are heavy for the loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. While we must allow the investigations to uncover all the information, the videos from Baton Rouge and St. Paul shock the conscience and remind us that we have much work left to do in the fight for equal treatment, equal opportunity and safety on the streets for all, regardless of race. We cannot stay silent; as I have said before, silence is akin to consent. We must raise our voices in a clarion call for accountability, transparency and justice in these two cases, and also redouble the work of dismantling the systemic bias and structural racism that lead to far too much pain and suffering. While we undertake this work, we must not build more walls, but instead tear down barriers that divide us and find mutual understanding. We must recommit ourselves to the task of creating a nation where all people are treated equally and given the same opportunity to pursue and achieve the American dream."
AFT, President Randi Weingarten: "Last night, I watched the news in horror. It shook me to the core to see officers murdered in cold blood while they protected a peaceful protest. Our hearts are with Dallas. We mourn the loss of these men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our community. Our condolences go out to their loved ones, and our thoughts remain with the officers and civilians who were injured during the shootings."
Dallas AFL-CIO, Secretary-Treasurer Mark York: "The shooting of 12 Dallas law enforcement officers last night—resulting in five officers killed and seven wounded while protecting a group of Dallas citizens’ peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights—is an attack on our country and values. Dallas AFL-CIO affiliate members encounter danger on their jobs on a daily basis as they work to protect and serve our community. We honor their sacrifices. We encourage the Dallas community to unite behind our law officers and First Responders."
Minnesota AFL-CIO, President Bill McCarthy: “Words cannot even begin to describe what Philando Castile’s family and friends must be going through right now. Minnesota’s labor movement grieves for the loss of yet another young African American man. While our thoughts and prayers are with Philando’s family and friends, we know that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. We need to begin by giving state and federal authorities time to do their jobs, conduct impartial investigations, and let due process take its course. However, we must acknowledge that a double standard exists for African American men when interacting with law enforcement. Whether the bias is intentional or not, too many African American men find themselves on the receiving end of deadly force."
Teamsters Local 320: "The 11,000 members of Teamsters Local 320 are saddened and grieving the loss of Teamster brother Philando Castile. This is a tragedy on every level and all teamsters are encouraged to keep the Castile family in our thoughts and prayers." President Sami Gabriel: "I have known Philando 'Phil' Castile since he joined the Teamsters back in 2002, and he was an amazing person who did his job at St. Paul Public Schools because he loved the children he served. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and his community."
Texas AFL-CIO, President John Patrick: "The Texas AFL-CIO joins a state and nation in mourning over the events of the last three days. We mourn the loss of union Brothers and nonunion Brothers alike. We stand in solidarity with and offer our condolences and prayers to the families and communities of those who died. Violence against law officers, who carry out a difficult charge to maintain an orderly society, is atrocious and completely unacceptable. We work arm in arm with the law enforcement community at the Legislature for a better Texas. Law officers are working people who willingly take on dire personal risk to protect us all. We honor their bravery and grieve those who died in Dallas. The deaths and injuries that occurred this week will inevitably affect the level of mutual trust that builds our communities. We hope this situation is temporary. The shootings are a low point for our nation. We all must rise up and love one another."
Texas AFT, President Louis Malfaro: "Educators across the state of Texas mourn the senseless taking of lives of our brothers and sisters who served us daily in the name of public safety. We support all Dallas police officers who performed this duty, which included protecting citizens who were peacefully protesting. The answers to the tough issues our nation faces regarding safe communities and fair treatment for all will not be found through hate and bullets but through difficult changes in behavior and attitudes."
United Food and Commercial Workers, President Marc Perrone: "We once again wake up to the realization that there is hate, indifference, and injustice dividing and taking the lives of Americans. The needless deaths of two fathers, one shot selling CDs, the other reaching for his wallet, are the latest tragic examples that African Americans face not only injustice, but death at the hands of those sworn to protect justice. The events in Dallas, and the murder of five police officers who were protecting the rights of all of us to speak out against such injustice not only fills us with heartbreak, it leads us to question the very direction of this nation. All of us who lead, in labor and out, every elected and community leader, our presidential candidates, must now face a stark choice—we will either come together to solve these problems that have led to these senseless deaths, or we will see our great nation torn apart by those who hate and wish to divide us. We cannot accept the status quo. We must do better."
United Steelworkers, President Leo W. Gerard: "We condemn the underlying racism that leads to the murder of innocent people anywhere. We share in the collective grief over the senseless killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and far too many others. Our society is still sadly grappling with the systemic racism and unchecked violence that puts black Americans at unnecessary risk as they live their daily lives. At the same time, we also mourn the loss of the five brave officers in Dallas. We thank those who put their lives at risk keeping us safe and protecting our right to convene peaceably. Innocent citizens and public servants should never fall victim to hate. It is the responsibility of our entire society to work together to break this vicious cycle of violence. These incidents must serve to unite—not further divide—us."
Washington Post, The: "Before he was fatally shot Wednesday by a police officer in Minnesota, before his name became a hashtag, Philando Castile was known as a warm and gentle presence at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, where he managed the cafeteria. He was there when children streamed into school for breakfast in the morning, playing music and bantering. He was there when they returned for lunch: Laughing with kids, urging them to eat more vegetables, helping keep order in his easygoing way. And so it is difficult for anyone at J.J. Hill to understand why he won’t be there anymore and how he could be gone."