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For Immediate Release
May 30, 2020

Statement from UUP President Frederick E. Kowal on the Death of George Floyd

As educators, as health care professionals, as members of a great union with a history of commitment to social justice, we must condemn racist violence like that which led to the death of George Floyd. We mourn for his family, for the pain of their loss and the way he was stolen from them.

Many of us have seen such acts of brutality over and over. We are left to ask, How long will it take for justice to sweep our land clean of its original sin of racism? No American can accept this or the continued violence we are witnessing, targeting people of color and delivered by those in power. And at a time when a pandemic is striking down those in communities of color more frequently than anywhere else in America, we must all join in the work of justice — economic, environmental and racial.

At this time when our nation appears to be coming apart at the seams, perhaps it is best to look to past leaders for wisdom to navigate an unjust world. I find solace and inspiration in the words of President Barack Obama, to whom I give the last word during this terrible time…

“This shouldn't be "normal" in 2020 America. It can't be "normal." If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.

It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd's death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a "new normal" in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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