Another US city rose up recently in outrage after multiple Black men were murdered by police. This time it was Charlotte, NC, after Keith Lamont Scott was killed, but just a few days prior, outraged millions watched the video of an unarmed Terence Crutcher being executed by the police in the middle of the road after his vehicle stalled. These are only the latest in a long and ugly pattern of brutality against Blacks and other people of color by the racist police. Eric Garner, the son of a TWU Local 100 member, was choked to death, on video, by a NYPD officer on Staten Island while he screamed, "I can't breathe!" His murder, and the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, sparked nationwide protests and gave birth to the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement against police brutality.
We need to stop the killings, the brutality, and the racist police. But how can we do it? The BLM movement raised awareness of the constant and systemic racism by the cops against Blacks and other people of color: clearly it is NOT just a few 'bad apples'. Pressure from BLM has forced a number of indictments, but the cops have been protected and let off by the racist justice system here in the US.
Local 100 is a mostly Black and Latino union, and Eric Garner's case, along with two attacks on NYCT conductors by off-duty cops shows that our union members aren't immune to the violence that ensues when cops brutalize and murder and without any punishment. The cops get the message that they can kill or attack whoever they want without consequence, and you know what? They are mostly right.
A number of Local 100 members, including those in Revolutionary Transit Worker (RTW), have decided to organize TRANSIT WORKERS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY: a group of transit workers, dedicated to fighting police brutality and to demanding that our union mobilize for this important issue that affects us all.
If Local 100 were to mobilize, AS A UNION, to protest police brutality, we could use our collective power to help fight police brutality and systemic racism. Colin Kaepernick showed that a brave act of defiance can raise awareness and spark others to action. Similarly, we hope that an example of Local 100 mobilizing could encourage other unions to do the same. If we use our power, as workers, for the cause, our chance of winning is much greater. The killer cop who choked one of our sons is still on the job, not fired, no jail time. HOW CAN THAT BE??? Any union worth a damn would organize to protest that!
When unions were strong and winning, they fought for more than just the benefits of their own members, but forged alliances through solidarity by fighting for just causes, like organizing the unemployed during the depression. We also hope, through mobilizing our union for this struggle, that we can bring some of the energy and militancy of the movement back to Local 100 and other unions. We hope that BLM could provide a spark to reignite a militant fight for our upcoming contract.
Now imagine what the effect could be if hundreds or thousands of transit workers, proudly wearing our union colors, protested police brutality and murder at One Police Plaza, or joined a BLM protest. Local 100 runs New York, and workers run the economy - without us, everything stops. This is the type of power we want to fuse with the movement against police brutality, and we encourage all transit workers who are outraged by the police murders and brutality, and those who want to see the cops responsible punished to join us in that fight.