Three more unarmed black people have been shot and killed by the police. They include a teenager with a BB gun in Columbus, OH; a young man with his hands in the air, returning from class in Tulsa, OK; and a man sitting in his car, reading a book in Charlotte, NC. (Another black man was shot at a demonstration in downtown Charlotte while protesting the death of the man killed by police. He is on life support.) The police who pulled the trigger are men and women, black and white.
These attacks have become commonplace. Rather than being cowed by mass protests and a flood of citizen cell-phone videos, they seem to have been emboldened by the lack of prosecutions by local and federal officials. The depiction of these individuals as “a few bad apples,” has long since been proven false. And now the Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed Trump for President and his platform of racism, sexism and anti-immigrant hysteria.
Despite reports that the economy has recovered from the 2008 crash, the gap in income and employment between black and white workers remains virtually unchanged. And even as we fight to raise the minimum wage, $15/hour won’t pay the rent in NYC.
Plus, we live in an unstable world. The 2003 invasion of Iraq has created a firestorm throughout the Middle East, killing millions and creating millions more refugees, with no end in sight. In Syria, U.S. and Russian troops and fighter jets are dangerously close to one another. Racist police terror is, in part, a way to terrorize black youth into accepting a future of poverty and war.
There is mass revulsion at this reign of terror. More and more groups and individuals, from Colin Kaepernick to the Oakland School Children, are taking a knee during the National Anthem. This is an issue for all workers, for every union.
What would happen if the next time police killed someone, workers walked off their jobs and marched to police headquarters or City Hall? And what if they were joined by walkouts on college campuses and high schools? And if the city were shut down until the shooter was off the streets? This may not be as out of reach as it seems. Professional athletes have a big spotlight to draw media attention, but as writers we have many avenues to take a stand, and we know many more writers that we can engage. Talk to one another, raise resolutions, spread the word.
Larry Goldbetter is the President of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981