Sara Lonardo,

Issued May 29, 2020

SEIU’s Henry: Officers responsible for the death of George Floyd must be held accountable



WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the continuous attacks on communities of color and uprisings in Minneapolis, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement:

“Every one of us, regardless of where we live or what we look like, deserves to know that the country we live in will uphold our basic human rights. Now more than ever, we've learned how precious security and safety are for all of us, our families, and our communities. 

“But over the past weeks, we’ve seen the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the racist attack against Christian Cooper. We’ve seen the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, fueled by politicians’ scapegoating. We’ve seen the unjust burden of COVID-19 on Black and brown people that reflects age-old color-coded barriers to health and security and is driven by President Trump’s inaction and big corporations’ failure to protect frontline essential workers. 

“Working people have come together across differences, in this union, to fight for a better future for all families. We have an active and ongoing effort to build cross-racial solidarity in our union because we know that we cannot achieve economic justice without racial justice—they are inextricably linked. Therefore, we will not be silent. We will continue to use our collective voices to speak out against the consistent violence inflicted upon Black people and other communities of color. And we will call out this president and other politicians who dare to use a city’s grief to incite more violence for their own political gain.

“Over the past few years, we have seen heightened public awareness of the racism that people of color have always experienced. Awareness is not enough—it must lead to action. In Minneapolis, that means arresting and charging the officers responsible for the death of George Floyd.

“It’s important to recognize that the officers in Minneapolis are not representative of the entire law enforcement community. SEIU members serve on the frontlines doing essential work, including many in law enforcement who keep people safe and uphold the public trust. However, when that trust is broken, we must use our collective voices to call for change.

“Unfortunately, justice cannot be served for Ahmaud, Breonna, and George. Justice would be having them alive and well with their family and friends. But we can choose to make this moment a turning point so that no one feels they can take another person’s life for granted.

“SEIU members will keep up the fight for racial and economic justice, including educating each other and mobilizing to elect leaders in November who will stand with us and take action for justice. We will stand in solidarity with our members in Minnesota who are holding their elected leaders accountable, and with those protesting in cities across the nation.  We will partner with community organizations and allies to press for accountability and systemic changes across the criminal justice system, as well as living wage work, affordable healthcare, the right to join together in a union, and the dignity and respect that we all deserve, no matter where we are from or the color of our skin.”