Statement From Uaw President Rory L. Gamble on the Shooting of Jacob Blake

The senseless shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, by police officers this past week is yet another horrific tragedy, yet another Black Man shot on an American street. Blake was shot in the back seven times and shot with deadly force in front of his children. As a father and grandfather, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his family.

This incident, like the agonizing death of George Floyd earlier this year at the hands of Minneapolis police and so many others before him, is tearing at the very fabric of our nation.

We must not look away from the ugly truth that is at the core of this national disgrace: it is, plain and simple, systemic racism.

Just one day later, as a nation, we watched in horror as a young man with an assault weapon — shot and killed protesters. A video showed him walking away, right past law enforcement authorities. The reason for shooting protesters: Peacefully speaking out against hate and injustice in the case of Mr. Blake.

We cannot be a nation that defends the right to bear arms, but not the right to bear voice. We cannot be a nation where hate is protected speech, but non-violent protest is not. We cannot be a nation where the implementation of law and order is seen through the prism of the color of skin, ideology, beliefs or simply being different. There is a better angel in our nature.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans — black, brown and white —  have taken to the streets in protest of these shootings, begging our nation and our leaders to stop the violence, stop the senseless deaths and shootings of Black American citizens on American streets by the very people who are supposed to protect us. The vast majority of these protestors are peaceful. And the right to peaceful protest is at the very heart of our nation’s founding, Yet we’ve seen protestors shot, beaten bloody to the ground, doused with tear gas. Violence against Americans who demand an end to violence.

THIS MUST STOP.  NOW.

I have said this before, but I want to repeat it. We must stop letting our differences define us. We are ALL Americans and each and every one of us deserves the protections, the respect and the rights spelled out in our nation’s laws.

But these deaths and this violence against unarmed Black citizens and peaceful protestors has shone a harsh light on the ugly fact that we truly are not all equal in the eyes and actions of many. This is not the America any of us wants. This is not the America so many of us black, brown and white have fought for. This is not the America we promised to our children. We call on our leaders to put an end to this systemic racism. To put an end to unjustified deadly force against Americans. And to finally, really address the racial divide that is crippling our nation.

WE CAN DO BETTER.