Marches are still ongoing to protest the police killing of Kimani Gray. President Samuelsen of TWU Local 100 is instead urging members to protest “gun violence” on March 21, as part of the NY Voices Against Gun Violence (NYVAGV) coalition. Gun violence is a real problem, but this coalition’s solution is to give more powers to the cops and courts. NYVAGV calls for safe communities but says nothing about police killings or Stop & Frisk, which is a license for daily harassment and brutality. Without this racist policy the police wouldn’t have had cause to approach Gray in the first place.
This is just another example of Samuelsen’s and other union leaders’ failed strategy. They rely on the government that is attacking us rather than our own united action. Workers built unions and won other gains through mass struggle-workers’ relying on their own strength and organization. And the cops were there to try to break those struggles.
Today, the passive policies of union leaders like Samuelsen are enough to keep the few, small union protests in line, so the cops stand on the sidelines, just in case. The militant protests for justice in Flatbush, however, represented the threat of a growing movement that could appeal to broader numbers of workers and poor in NYC-and so there, video shows the police trapping and attacking the protesters and arresting dozens of them.
And what does Samuelsen say about this attack on freedom of speech and assembly? Does he try to link our contract fight which has no momentum to this potential movement? No, he endorses this pro-cop coalition which has no answer to any kind of gun violence. As such, it is an obstacle to building a mass movement against all the attacks: police violence, budget cuts, contract fights, poverty, unemployment and the list goes on. This union-and all unions-belong in the streets of Flatbush and elsewhere, protesting for justice. We will be trying to rally support in Local 100 and other unions, including by raising motions, and encourage others to do so as well.
The Fight Against Racist Police Terror, a recent leaflet
Fight Police Terror! pamphlet
Fight Racist, Anti-Worker Cop Attacks! (in RTW No. 56)
The Democratic Party: Graveyard of Black Struggles
Whereas, the police killing of Kimani Gray in East Flatbush followed from racist “Stop & Frisk” policies, and
Whereas, the police responded to protests with violence and mass arrests that denied the right to protest, freedom of speech and assembly, and Whereas, our own contract fight faces the same social conditions and defending our own jobs, wages and working conditions requires standing up in defense of all working and poor people; therefore, be it
Resolved, that [this union body] call on its own members, [its parent body], and all other unions and community organizations to build a massive march against police brutality by mid-April, around demands which can unite workers, the poor and all those hit hard by the economic crisis, including: