I want to send a message to the family of George Floyd. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through in these hours after your son’s tragic and needless death. As a father and grandfather, I want to personally extend my most heartfelt sympathy to your family.
Sadly, he is one of many African Americans who have been the victim of racial profiling and brutality in this country. We have all seen the headlines. I say this with great sorrow and not to vilify our brave men and women in blue. We represent many police officers and they are truly untold heroes who go to work every day to keep all of us safe. They have bravely been on the front lines of this pandemic, as they are always on the front lines when our nation is in need. But in this case, things went terribly wrong, and we must look at this issue as a nation. No matter how painful, we cannot not turn away.
Now I’m going to speak very plainly here. I am an African American man also from an urban center and you may think that this is why I am speaking out. But I am speaking as an American, as a union tradesman, and I am speaking to us all.
These are unprecedented times for us all. What we need now is not hard heartedness. Not division. Not looking at our differences but looking at who we are and what we value as Americans. And we are ALL Americans. We are this nation and our differences should be our strength, not our weakness. Not our tragedies.
This pandemic, terrible as it is, has in my opinion, shown us that we are in this together and we must rely on one another if we are going to navigate in this worldwide crisis. This is a scary time, and fear and prejudice are our enemies. We must not allow these human failings to prevail. When I look at the terrible, tragic circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s last minutes, begging for his life, I know that we as a nation failed this young man. This must not be our course as Americans. This must not be our story. And this cannot be the future of our nation.
George Floyd’s death is an American tragedy in a time of extreme pain and uncertainty. The color of our skin cannot — and must not — divide us. If this young man’s untimely and terrible death teaches us anything, I hope it is that we need to all see each other as Americans. Each and every one of us — Americans.
And as Americans, I think we need to serve warning that we are watching out for the safety of our fellow Americans and will do what is necessary to keep each other safe. And we will hold those accountable, regardless of who they are, if they put any of us in peril.
We have a word for it at the UAW: SOLIDARITY.