Solidarity, Not Division

May 30, 2020- This morning, Governor Tim Walz, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington provided an update on the arrests made in last night's protests. Inclusion, equity, fairness, morality, and justice for all are values we must always fight for. People advocating otherwise have a clear goal of fomenting hate, violence, fear, and destruction in our communities and attempt to place the blame on the thousands of peaceful protestors who are using their constitutional rights to free speech and protest and blame communities of color. Do not fall for this, don't be divided.

There is an abundance of positive news stories that should be written about what is happening in our communities, including neighbors going from house-to-house gathering fire extinguishers to put out fires, individuals providing shelter to those who are scared and anxious, and mobilizing community networks to provide emergency housing, food assistance, and more. With the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the countless number of lives lost in senseless tragedies like these and the COVID-19 pandemic illuminating the inequities that have existed for time in memoriam, it is clear that our communities will rebuild, but going "back to normal" cannot be the goal. We must create the future we want to see -together. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our modern-day 'founding father," has a close and spiritual connection to our union and the labor movement generally. It was our union that represented the black sanitation workers in 1968 who went on strike demanding fair wages and benefits, safety and security protocols, and to be treated as human beings with dignity and respect. It was our union that stood up against apartheid in South Africa. It was AFSCME Council 5, who in 2002 was one of the first unions to put in our state employee contracts same-sex partner benefits.  We have a long history of fighting for justice and that must continue in the new world we will shape together. 

"I've Been to the Mountaintop"- 

One day before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a group of striking AFSCME sanitation workers, their families and friends, and allies, and said: 

"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Together- we can and will create our future in the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and when we do, we will have all finally reached the promised land...

Julie Bleyhl, Executive Director