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ATU: George Floyd’s words a reminder of the racism and hatred yet to be overcome

Amalgamated Transit Union International President John Costa issued the following statement in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN:

“We are deeply disturbed and angered by the tragic death of George Floyd, an African-American who was held, handcuffed, on the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”

“Those all-too-familiar words, first uttered by Eric Garner, an African-American who was suffocated during a 2014 arrest by a white New York police officer, come as a tragic reminder of the injustice inflicted on persons of color every day in the United States.    

“We as a nation must not tolerate the brutality on display in this ugly event, nor can we continue to abide the hate and racial profiling that make awful incidents like this all too common.

“We are calling for a full and independent investigation into Floyd’s death, and for appropriate action to be taken to ensure that justice is served. 

“Furthermore, as our members – bus drivers – have the right to refuse work they consider dangerous or unsafe during the pandemic, so too Minneapolis bus drivers – our members – have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live. This is a misuse of public transit.

“The Amalgamated Transit Union has a long history of fighting for social justice as well as the rights and equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. 

“If any good is to come of this, we in the labor movement and the nation must unite to stop the systemic cycle of injustice, racism and hatred that plagues our country."