ON the day that George Floyd was finally laid to rest, the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) and the Joint Trade Union Movement have expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that his murder has reignited.
CCL’s general secretary Michael Annisette said,“We in the CCL condemn racism and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are standing up for change.
“How can we not speak up and speak out against this social injustice?" Annisette asked, pointing to the brutality and prejudice that black people have faced in the US.
“We have lamented the loss of many unarmed black men and women at the hands of police officers and/or vigilantes for several years. We would have watched in horror as George Floyd lost his life due to a policeman deliberately kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes.”
(In fact Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.)
Hundreds of mourners gathered at a church in Floyd’s hometown of Houston, Texas, on Tuesday for his funeral.
Annisette said for many people in the Caribbean and African diaspora who either live or have family in the US, this is a stark reality, as they could be subjected to this kind of treatment.
In a statement, JTUM, which represents over 15 trade unions, said it stands on the side of justice and expressed solidarity with “our Caribbean brothers and sisters as well as our fighters across the globe who are fighting a historic battle to bring about a better world.
“As the police officer Derek Chauvin dug his knee further into an already immobile George Floyd, the entire world was suffocated,” JTUM said.
The umbrella trade union body said there can be no peace until all people of the world are served justice, systemic racism is rooted out and until basic human rights are guaranteed to all without regard to race.
Until then, “We will continue to cry with the progressive people of the world. 'We cannot breathe.'”
Those were among Floyd's last words as he died of asphyxia.
JTUM also observed, "In a country where the expansion of business and economy brought millions of people across the seas, stacked one upon the other in treacherous boats to be sold off to advance the economy as merchandise, the ‘goods’ have now spoken and once again thrown the world into an uproar.”
JTUM said the issues which ignited this situation were ignored for too long and inevitably rebellion comes at a critical moment, “when in the White House there sits a racist, a misogynist and neo-fascist.”
On Monday, a large group gathered opposite the US Embassy in Port of Spain to identify with and show support for BLM, which is gaining momentum globally against police brutality and racism, especially against people of colour.