Washington – In response to the events around the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the ensuing nationwide protests, the National Executive Council of the American Federation of Government Employees released the following joint statement:
“A more perfect union. It’s the central aspiration of our United States Constitution – a document every federal employee swears an oath to support and defend. It’s a measuring stick against which we judge our collective actions. It’s a standard that we’ve fallen short of as a nation throughout our history.
“In the face of the senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, we once again find ourselves weighed in the balance and found wanting.
“As a nation, we grieve with these families. We share their sorrow. We feel the pain of their loss. We are reminded that our failures have real costs. We remember that a more perfect union is not merely an aspiration, it is a responsibility and a calling.
“Each of us, as American citizens, is accountable for making that aspiration a reality. Each of us has a part to play in that more perfect union.
“None of these deaths occurred in a social or political vacuum. They were the result of profound racial disparities in our society. The deaths in police custody and the disproportionate rates of death from COVID-19 both reflect the vast economic inequities faced by communities of color.
“Black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans. Black Americans are 13 percent of the U.S. population but comprise a third of the prison population. Black Americans are twice as likely as whites to be uninsured and earn wages that that are, on average, 27.5 percent below white workers’ wages.
“In seeking justice for the deaths of Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Floyd, we must recommit to the pursuit of economic justice as well. We cannot ignore what we’ve witnessed in videos and urge a return to business as usual.
“We understand and share the pain and the fear that has led to street protests in cities throughout America. We are committed to the struggle for equal justice. But we cannot condone violence or the vilification of all law enforcement. AFGE proudly represents thousands of law enforcement officers, and we understand that those who violate the public trust are the exception, not the rule.
“In our workplaces and in our communities, we must reject the culture of divisiveness and rancor that asks us to deny the inherent human dignity of our brothers and sisters because of their race, their creed, their religion, their gender, their age, their disability, or their sexual orientation. As a union, we will continue our struggle for unity and solidarity.
“With all of us working together, practicing compassion and empathy with our fellow citizens, and doing our part to promote the well-being of all, the good people of this country will secure that more perfect union, and the blessings of liberty and justice for every American.”