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“The flashing lights did not symbolize help or protection. It’s almost like it’s a symbol of death, the Grim Reaper for being Black in America.”

July 8, 2016
Media contact: Elizabeth Fernandez, elizabeth.fernandez@seiufl.org954-652-9897


Miami, FL — SEIU Florida President Monica Russo released the following statement in reaction to the lives taken by police violence this week:

“Anti-Black racism is alive and well and raising its ugly head with a vengeance. The killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling — two innocent Black men minding their own business — brings the death toll of Black folks in the US killed by police to 136 in 2016 alone, and the year is only halfway over. How many more Black lives do we have to lose at the hands of officials sworn to protect us? How much longer will we have to mourn the loss of so many, executed simply for the crime of being Black? Has the mother of Alton Sterling been able to see her murdered son’s body yet?

“Yet again and again, after nearly every one of these crimes against Black men and boys, the police officers involved are set free. They keep getting away with taking Black lives at a shockingly high rate, with no justice for the victims. These officers should be indicted and prosecuted with the same passion we expect the murderers of the Dallas police officers to be prosecuted.

“The ongoing injustice creates a culture of fear, as our Black communities feel there is nowhere to turn. SEIU Florida organizer Santcha Etienne came to me in tears today, saying, ‘I can’t stop crying. I am so afraid. Why are they killing our Black boys and men for NOTHING? For nothing! The police are supposed to protect us. Instead, they are killing us for no reason.’

“As hospital worker and 1199SEIU member Sade Denise told me this morning, ‘My heart dropped into my stomach seeing a bunch of cop cars today. The flashing lights did not symbolize help or protection. It's almost like it’s a symbol of death, the Grim Reaper for being Black in America. I fear not just for my family and friends, but my neighbors and the rest of our community. This is injustice and justice isn't being served!’

Black lives must matter to all of us.


SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.