Press Release

AFT Leaders on the Killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

For Release: 

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Regina Grossman

WASHINGTON—In response to the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the AFT’s officers released the following statements:
Randi Weingarten, AFT president
“Our hearts are heavy for the loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. While we must allow the investigations to uncover all the information, the videos from Baton Rouge and St. Paul shock the conscience and remind us that we have much work left to do in the fight for equal treatment, equal opportunity and safety on the streets for all, regardless of race. We cannot stay silent; as I have said before, silence is akin to consent. We must raise our voices in a clarion call for accountability, transparency and justice in these two cases, and also redouble the work of dismantling the systemic bias and structural racism that lead to far too much pain and suffering. While we undertake this work, we must not build more walls, but instead tear down barriers that divide us and find mutual understanding. We must recommit ourselves to the task of creating a nation where all people are treated equally and given the same opportunity to pursue and achieve the American dream.”

Lorretta Johnson, AFT secretary-treasurer
“We must continue to fight for the respect that the African-American community deserves and, especially, to ensure that black men—our sons, brothers and fathers—no longer live in a world where these tragedies are an everyday occurrence. We’re encouraged by the swift and decisive action of leaders like U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to call for transparent investigations and real accountability. However, the tragic events over the last two days remind us that we cannot stop our work to address the structural and systemic bias that is destroying lives in our communities.”

Mary Cathryn Ricker, AFT executive vice president
“We began the week by honoring our nation’s enduring commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, this week’s events in Baton Rouge and St. Paul remind us just who has access to that life and liberty and pursuit of happiness, and who does not. I send my condolences to the loved ones left behind and call for justice for the victims. The killing of Philando Castile hits especially close to home, and I join my brothers and sisters from St. Paul and all of Minnesota in mourning the senseless killing of a well-loved young man who dedicated himself to serving our community’s children. Coming less than a year after the death of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, this is a painful reminder that we have no time to waste in addressing bias and racism if we hope to prevent another unnecessary death.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.