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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.
The pain and suffering of the nine months since unarmed Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer has given birth to a new era of intolerance for police brutality. On the heels of Mother’s Day, more than a thousand community members turned out for a luncheon to honor those whose children lost their lives to violence and to join forces with the Black Women’s Forum (BWF), of which Congresswoman Maxine Waters is co-founder.
Our study group here has expanded exponentially since these demonstrations across the country. People here with me who only yesterday refused to come to terms with being victims of social injustice are now identifying with the forces of revolution. They no longer have a defeatist mentality. Ferguson has shown that RESISTANCE IS THE WAY FORWARD. We are moving – to what destination, only time will tell.
I am haunted by the words of Lesley McSpadden immediately following the shooting death of her son, Michael Brown: “Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many Black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway.”
A local NAACP chapter has called for a federal investigation into the death of a Black teenager who was shot by police in a St. Louis suburb on Saturday, Aug. 9. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed Saturday afternoon near his grandmother’s house by a Ferguson police officer. St. Louis County police have not given a reason for the shooting, which happened in a predominantly Black suburb a few miles north of downtown St. Louis. After the shooting, a confrontation between police and hundreds of neighborhood residents lasted several hours, with shouts of “kill the police.”