Three more unarmed black men 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. The police who pulled the trigger are men and women, black and white.
These attacks have become scarily commonplace. Rather than being cowed by mass protests and the spread of citizen cell phone videos, the police seem 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, along with his platform of racism, sexism and anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim 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. Overall, wages and living standards have been depressed for the past 30 years, while prices for everything have soared. While we are fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, that still won’t pay the rent in NYC, or many other cities around the country.
Add to that, we live in an ever more unstable world. The 2003 invasion of Iraq has created a firestorm throughout the Middle East, killing millions, creating a sea of refugees, with no end in sight. In Syria, U.S. and Russian troops and fighter jets are in dangerously close to each other, where things could quickly escalate. You could make the case that the rise in racist police terror is, in part, a way to terrorize black youth into accepting a future of poverty and war.
As more and more individuals and groups, such as Oakland School Children, are joining Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial oppression, this is truly an issue for all of us, 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, what if the city were shut down as a protest against police killings?
This may not be as out of reach as it seems. There is mass revulsion at the reign of terror. 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.