Underpaid, Overpoliced: Labor Statement on Black Friday 14 Charges Dropped

Black Friday 14 Labor CD

As leaders from the labor movement who have stood with the Black Friday 14, we celebrate today with the 14 and the countless people who have stood with them. We asked District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, “Which side are you on?” and today she has chosen to stand on the right side by dropping criminal charges against the Black Friday 14.

We commend Nancy O’Malley for doing the right thing and sending the right message to other law enforcement and prosecutors that Black activists and those that take a stand for racial justice shouldn’t be unduly prosecuted.

Labor leaders from 9 different labor organizations, including the president of the California Labor Federation, sat in at the DA’s office on November 10th as part of a nationwide Fight for $15 action and in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to demand the DA drop the charges. Half of Black workers make under $15 an hour and our members are people of color who face a crisis of inequality and displacement as well as police violence and injustice from the courts. We know that economic justice and racial justice are inseparable. And we honor the actions of the Black Friday 14 as part of a long tradition of fighting for dignity in the civil rights and labor movements.

In May 2015, the Alameda Labor Council canceled a plan to honor District Attorney O’Malley at its annual dinner, citing her handling of the Black Friday 14 case. We know our actions and the actions from the faith, legal and other communities in the past year have held O’Malley accountable to her office’s mandate to pursue justice. This victory is a victory for all of us who stand united with the movement for Black lives, for all of us who have answered the call, “Which side are you on?” with our unequivocal response: “We’re on the freedom side.”

While the charges are dropped, the movement continues; and continued injustices — from Chicago, to Minneapolis, to the latest police killing in San Francisco — will keep calling us to action. As leaders of the labor movement, we reaffirm our commitment to our workers, to Black workers, to Black people and to standing for the freedom side.

Alisa Messer, Political Director, American Federation of Teachers 2121

Andrea Lee, Co-Director, Mujeres Unidas y Activas

Art Pulaski, Chief Officer, California Labor Federation

Danielle Mahones, Bay Area Black Worker Center

Denise Solis, Vice President, Service Employees International Union – United Service Workers West

Erika Lenhart, President, Western Workers Organizing Commitee, Fight for $15

Gabriel Haaland, Political Coordinator, Service Employees International Union Local 1021

Gordon Mar, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice San Francisco

Kathryn Lybarger, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299

Ken Tray, Political Director, United Educators of San Francisco

Margaret Mary Downey, Head Steward, United Auto Workers 2865 UC Berkeley

Ramses Teon-Nichols, Vice President, Service Employees International Union Local 1021

Tho Do, Hotel Organizing Director, UNITE HERE

Wei-Ling Huber, President, UNITE HERE Local 2850