Rest in Power: Workers Defense Commitments to Fighting anti-Black Violence and White Supremacy

This week, George Floyd was laid to rest in his hometown of Houston after being brutally murdered by Minneapolis police. We are filled with rage and sorrow for his family, friends and community and stand in solidarity with the millions around the world and country who demand an end to white supremacy and police brutality. We join their call for justice for George Floyd and the many others who were murdered by the police: Mike Ramos, Javier Ambler, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, David Joseph, Larry Jackson, Nicholas Chavez, Adrian Medearis and so many more.

At Workers Defense, as we reflect on our role in this fight we are inspired by the bravery and resilience of communities rising up, a powerful movement led by the righteous anger of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. This is the justified anger of people who are tired of waiting for incremental change when what we need is to dismantle institutions built on racism and white supremacy. Police have responded with more repression and violence, making it even more clear why we need sweeping change. In Texas, Austin police brutalized peaceful protesters with tear gas and “less lethal munitions,” Dallas police entrapped over 600 peaceful protesters, tear-gassed and arrested them, and Houston police violently escalated tensions with crowds, trampling and pepper-spraying protesters and arresting or charging nearly 800 peaceful protesters.

As an immigrant and workers’ rights organization that fights for economic and racial justice, our struggle is inextricably tied to the fight for Black Liberation. While the institutional racism and discrimination experienced by immigrant and Latinx community is not the same as that of our Black brothers and sisters, it is all part of a single white supremacist, capitalist system that seeks to control and profit from our labor by denying our very humanity.

We stand in solidarity with Black communities and organizations to dismantle the racist social and economic institutions that aim to dehumanize us. As we call for abolishing ICE, we must also call for defunding police forces that perpetuate anti-Black violence; as we call for an end to the for-profit detention of immigrants, we must also call for an end to a prison system that profits off of the overcriminalization of people of color and facilitates modern day slavery. As we make these external demands, we must also look at ourselves. We have a responsibility as an organization, membership and community to examine how anti-Black racism exists in our work and lives, and to educate ourselves about the debt we owe to Black leaders who have been at the forefront of this fight for generations.

We have a common cause: to dismantle the systems that exploit and prey on our communities.

To honor those who were taken from us and stand in the fight for collective liberation, we are making these commitments:

We will act in solidarity with Black-led organizations. We will follow the leadership and inspiration of those who have been on the frontlines of this movement for years. We will uplift their demands and priorities in solidarity. We will show up when they ask us to be there. We will ask our communities to do the same.

We will demand radical solutions to dismantle white supremacy. We support the call to defund and demilitarize police forces and to invest in the community programs that actually make our community safer: public health and medical services, mental health resources, quality education, enforcement of worker protections, and measures to combat poverty and homelessness. We demand immediate and sweeping changes to policing: policies that eliminate use of force and demand real accountability for officers who use excessive force or perpetuate racism and racial disparities in policing in any way. In Austin and Dallas, we believe that means a change in leadership. We call for the resignation of Chief Manley in Austin and Chief Hall in Dallas.

We will recognize the centuries-long struggle that led to this moment. We recognize that our resistance in this moment is built on a long history of Black leadership and organizing. This struggle began hundreds of years ago when enslaved Africans were brought to this country and Spanish colonizers enslaved and brutalized Indigenous people across the Americas, including in Texas. Current and past leaders in our communities have put their bodies on the line and have been murdered, maimed, or have sacrificed their freedom to political incarceration at the hands of the state. We are standing on the shoulders of giants and have a duty to carry that work forward.

We will confront white supremacy within our organization and community. We will examine our own organization and membership, looking for white supremacy structures and practices and work to dismantle those from within. We will proactively name and challenge anti-Black racism within our own staff, membership, and our community. We will lift up the experiences of those in our community who are Black and immigrant, and we will use our role as a trusted messenger to educate our non-Black Latinx community on our common cause and challenge ourselves to uproot deeply held racial bias.

We do not make these commitments lightly. We know that those with power do not relinquish it easily and that our struggle will be long. We are strengthened in the knowledge that together we are stronger. At Workers Defense, our motto is “la unión hace la fuerza.” “In unity there is strength.”

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WORKERS DEFENSE LAUNCHES CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SEARCH