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As union members gathered in the nation’s capital over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, some of the country’s top labor leaders faced tough questions about how the movement can reconcile its support for racial justice with its embrace of police unions. Over the last year, the AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of unions, has faced calls from some in its membership to end its affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations.
Among many startling findings by legal scholar Michelle Alexander, former director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Project here in the Bay Area, is this: There are more African Americans under correctional control today – in prison or jail, on probation or parole – than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.