15 Now Minnesota Statement on Philando Castile Murder
The atrocious murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota have triggered a national fightback to demand justice for black lives. So far in 2016, police have killed 136 black people in the U.S. Unfortunately, a peaceful demonstration in Dallas was marred by the horrific deaths of 5 police officers by snipers. 15 Now Minnesota condemns this violent act, which will not help to win a united movement against the systemic racism, poverty, and injustices disproportionately faced by communities of color.
Thousands are angry, pouring into massive demonstrations in New York, St. Paul, Oakland, but many are already skeptical that an investigation will bring justice. Even in spite of the live, viral videos, in the case of Eric Garner and other young black victims of police violence, the grand jury process and Department of Justice investigations have not resulted in convictions or jail time for police officers.
15 Now Minnesota stands in solidarity with the movement for black lives. We demand the officers involved be indicted. We call for a united movement of working people to fight for our communities’ basic needs: an end to systemic, racial profiling, for fully-funded public education, a $15 minimum wage, and jobs with full union rights.
Working people face a Tale of Two Cities in our metro area. The Twin Cities are home to 20 Fortune 500 companies, and yet some of the worst racial equity outcomes in education and poverty rates in the US. We need a top-to-bottom restructuring of the police departments. We need an end to “broken windows” policing and the war on drugs, which is really a war on young people of color and an end to the school-to-prison pipeline which traps millions into a deep cycle of poverty.
In Minneapolis, supporters of a $15 minimum wage handed in 20,000 signatures to put a charter amendment for $15 on the November ballot. Another organization, the Committee for Responsible Policing, has proposed an amendment to require personal insurance for police officers. But City Hall has indicated being “ideologically opposed” to petitions that amend the City Charter. The city establishment has signaled that it hopes to keep both measures off the ballot, despite refusing to take action on the injustices facing communities of color and working people in Minneapolis. We refuse to allow the signers for both petitions to be silenced: Let voters decide!
At the vigil and occupation outside the Governor’s mansion, union members showed up in scrubs and transit driver uniforms, to stand against the murder of Castile who was a union member and St. Paul Public School employee. The labor movement should go further and mobilize its members to protect the peaceful demonstrations demanding justice for Philando Castile, and actively build the fight for $15/hour as a concrete step against low-wage jobs that are disproportionately filled by women and people of color. After the snipers in Dallas and white supremacists shot at the 4th precinct occupation last winter, violence against protesters could be used to repress the peaceful Black Lives Matter mobilizations.
Winning $15 in Minneapolis would raise the confidence of workers across the Twin Cities, demonstrating that when we organize and build coordinated actions, we can win. To win justice for Philando, we must build demonstrations, rallies, walk-outs and actions demanding an end to the racial profiling that is killing black, working class people nationwide. We are organizing for a concrete victory in a fight against the business as usual racism that has resulted in the devastation of working class, communities of color. By building a united movement, we can win a $15 minimum wage and strike a blow against the racist system of poverty wages.