Demonstrations protesting police brutality and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement continued Monday night for the fourth night straight. Protesters are demanding national policing reform and justice for people of color killed in police custody after a video of police in Minnesota killing George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was released last Tuesday.
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued a statement supporting peaceful protests and calls for justice, saying:
“Working people have come together across differences, in this union, to fight for a better future for all families. We have an active and ongoing effort to build cross-racial solidarity in our union because we know that we cannot achieve economic justice without racial justice—they are inextricably linked. Therefore, we will not be silent. We will continue to use our collective voices to speak out against the consistent violence inflicted upon Black people and other communities of color. And we will call out this president and other politicians who dare to use a city’s grief to incite more violence for their own political gain.”
In her statement, she also addressed the disproportionate risk COVID-19 poses to communities of color.
“We’ve seen the unjust burden of COVID-19 on Black and brown people that reflects age-old color-coded barriers to health and security and is driven by President Trump’s inaction and big corporations’ failure to protect front-line essential workers.”
The impact of COVID-19 on communities of color has been alarming. A study published in Johns Hopkins Medicine found that in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, African-Americans represent over 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths despite being only 26 percent of the county’s population.