IWW calls on AFL-CIO to drop police unions

Stephon Johnson | 6/4/2020, midnight
Criticism of police unions have gotten louder and louder. This week, some of those criticisms have come from other unions.
Police confrontations FILE photos

Criticism of police unions has gotten louder and louder. This week, some of those criticisms have come from other unions.

In a statement sent to the AmNews, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) called on the AFL-CIO to drop police unions from their federation.

“As an international union with a long-standing history of interracial solidarity, we stand united with all members of the working class in their fight against racism, police repression, and state-based violence,” read part of their statement. “Moreover, we reaffirm our commitment to our motto, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’”

IWW’s statement also praised Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005, Transport Workers Union (TWU) 100 and other unions whose bus drivers refused to work with the police and transport people they arrested during protests to jail.

Education Minnesota, a union of 70,000 state educators, joined IWW in recommending that the AFL-CIO drop police unions from its federation and called for Minneapolis Police Union President Lt. Bob Kroll to resign.

“Educators and other members of organized labor are committed to seeking racial justice,” Education Minnesota Pres. Denise Specht said. “There is no place for leaders who support or defend racist actions and policies in our movement. Through his actions and words, Lt. Kroll has shown himself unfit to lead in the modern labor movement.

“We know the dangerous culture of the Minneapolis Police Department will not be changed overnight by the removal of a single leader, but it’s a start,” continued Specht.

Attempts to contact the Police Benevolent Association in New York for comment were unsuccessful.

The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Tony McDade in Florida, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota have put the Black community and its allies against law enforcement, Pres. Donald Trump and the many state governments around the country.

Color of Change, a racial justice organization, said the American people have had enough and action against the police is the result. They also called on elected officials to refuse any donations from police unions.

“In this moment, millions of Americans are lifting up their voices in fury demanding to know: ‘Why is this still happening? What will it take to finally see justice?,’” said Color of Change Pres. Rashad Robinson. “And as we see police around the country choosing to respond to protests with escalating force and unprovoked violence, it is more clear than ever that part of the answer has to be breaking from a tradition that glorifies abuse, negligence, and hostility by police at the expense of Black lives.”

According to Color of Change, in the last few days, at least seven New York City council members and state legislators said they would donate political donations from law enforcement to local bail funds. The largest return to date was $16,650 from State Sen. Mike Gianaris of Queens.

The IWW said that the police are the biggest roadblock when it comes to changing policy and doing right by the marginalized.

“As some of the strongest barriers to changing policy and enforcing accountability on police violence, police unions have kept that tradition alive,” read IWW’s statement. “These institutions pledge blind loyalty to their officers––even the most violent among them––and make powerful political allies of the elected prosecutors who are supposed to hold them to account. With so much power and influence over the law enforcement community, the leaders of these organizations have chosen to perpetuate a broken system rather than embrace fair, safe, common-sense solutions.”