This is MORE’s statement on the march with the Eric Garner’s family sponsored by the UFT
Last week the UFT announced sponsorship and support for A March for Unity and Justice. The march, with Eric Garner’s family at the helm, is billed as a coming together and a call for transparency and accountability in the wake of several prominent cases of alleged police brutality. A firestorm of criticism of the UFT’s sponsorship of this march has played out on the pages of newspapers, social media, and countless emails between educators, politicians, and community leaders.
There are numerous critiques and voices expressing a range of opinions from criticism of Al Sharpton, to the UFT’s democratic decision making (or lack thereof), to branding the march as anti-police. In addition, many are questioning the UFT’s involvement at all.
MORE caucus is comprised of UFT members and community members with differing and passionate views on many issues, including the sponsorship of this march. We agree however as dictated by our points of unity, that we are the social justice caucus of the UFT, we stand against racism and believe educators and our union, must be on the forefront of the fight for racial, social and economic justice.
MORE believes that democratic decision making and rank-and-file involvement and voice in the issues that face our members, our schools and our students is the foundation for a strong and united union.
MORE believes that issues that affect our students and their families are our issues, and it is vital that we stand with children and families whenever and wherever there is injustice.
MORE believes that due process is a right all workers should have.
We do not have the mechanism to engage in a healthy, informed and democratic debate within our union in regards to this march. However, we stand in solidarity with the Garner family, and countless families who have lost loved ones during low-level police-related encounters. Many of our members will march with the Garner family this Saturday, many will not due to the concerns surrounding the sponsorship and organization of this march.
We believe the issues of excessive force, police brutality, restorative justice practices, and the over-policing of our schools including the use of metal detectors are issues that deeply impact and affect educators and our students and we encourage our union leadership, as well as the leadership of the PBA, to engage our memberships in healthy debate, discussion, and meaningful democratically decided upon actions that will lead to the systemic changes we want to see for our children. Rather than allowing these issues to divide us, we encourage the leaderships of the UFT and PBA, to find ways to work together and unite us.
This statement was approved by the MORE steering committee due to the timely nature in which a response was required. We want this statement to serve as a starting point for more debate, discussion and conversation.
Please use the comments section to express your views and thoughts on the issues surrounding the march, but more importantly let us focus on the reason this march is taking place: in the last decade hundreds of black men have died during interactions with the police. The United States has the highest prison population of any similar nations, and a disproportionate number of those incarcerated are black men.
As educators, most of us know of at least one student who has experienced harassment, brutality, or even death at the hands of the police. Acknowledging this does not make any one of us anti-police. Rather, with our brother and sister officers we should seek improved practices and policies that will result in equal and just outcomes for all of our students and their families.