Statement on Murder of George Floyd
Statement from the Cleveland Teachers Union Executive Board on the murder of George Floyd
Enough! As the Cleveland Teachers Union Executive Board, we represent members who teach and support a diverse population of vulnerable children, and we cannot---we must not---be silent. This is the moment for change.
We were horrified---again---to see the killing of another unarmed Black American, George Floyd, at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect him. Mr. Floyd’s name has been added to a too-long list of victims whose lives were brutally ended: Ahmaud Arbery, Cleveland student Tamir Rice, Timothy Russell, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Malissa Williams, and shamefully the list goes on and on. Every person in this country has the right to live, a right to breathe, a right to be part of their community without fear of violence and senseless attack simply for the color of their skin.
We share the feelings of grief, rage, frustration, hurt, and fear that led to protests and demonstrations across the country. We do not condone rioting or violence, but we understand the desperate need to be heard and the angry calls for change. A combination of factors, including the current COVD-19 pandemic, has converged to create an intolerable situation, unacceptable for Americans of all races. America’s shameful legacy of racism and injustice endured by people of color every day is a nationwide, systemic problem. It demands a nationwide, systemic fix. It demands action from each and every one of us.
Since its beginning, the Cleveland Teachers Union has been a voice not only for its members - but also for the children we teach, for their families, and for our community. But we must be more than a voice; we need to act to make this a turning point for our city and for our nation. We cannot wait for others to lead this effort. There is no leadership in the current White House to work for a solution. Instead, we get incendiary tweets and divisive statements, not empathy or compassion. The President propagates resentment and grievance politics that wound and divide rather than heal and unite.
Our families deserve to raise children in a world where they do not have to face overt, or subtle, institutional racism in access to healthcare, the workforce, community safety, educational opportunities, or any other aspect of our society. We also cannot expect them to bear the burden alone in confronting the wrongs and changing the course of history.
We the Executive Board of the Cleveland Teachers Union are committed to working with our partners at the district, with students and families, with our Sisters and Brothers in the Ohio Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers, and with other labor and community partners in this crucial fight for racial and economic justice. We stand with our colleagues, our students, our families of color to demand change now. We support and applaud the actions of the Cleveland City Council to declare racism a public health emergency. We stand ready to work together with all of those who know that this is the time to change history.
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