Aparna Kumar,

Issued August 28, 2023

SEIU’s Henry and Verrett: Racist Jacksonville shooting on 60th anniversary of the March on Washington is a disgrace

WASHINGTON – Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry and Secretary-Treasurer April Verrett issued the following statement after a white supremacist killed three Black people in a Jacksonville Dollar General store:

“This weekend, on the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, our nation should have been celebrating our progress and reflecting on what’s needed to win racial and economic justice. But instead, we’re mourning the murder of three Black people in broad daylight at a Jacksonville Dollar General, including one employee, by a 21-year-old avowed white supremacist.

As a union of 2 million workers, with members in Jacksonville and across Florida, we extend our condolences to the families of the victims and stand with and for the Black people of Jacksonville at this moment. But as we all know, the culture of white supremacy and violence that seeded this tragedy is deep and extends across our entire nation. It is only by coming together across race that we can create the communities in which everyone can thrive and experience true safety.

Dollar General workers and working people across the economy have taken action, demanding unions and calling on corporations to make their workplaces safer. Neither they nor their customers should fear for their safety while simply going about their daily lives.

When so-called leaders embrace extremism and sow seeds of racial division to win elections and hold onto power, it has life or death consequences. We cannot ignore the fact that this happened in Florida, where Governor DeSantis, a presidential contender, has banned teachers from teaching about how race has shaped our history, creating an environment in which ignorance, fear and hate can fester in young minds. We demand accountability from Governor DeSantis, as well as members of Congress and elected leaders at every level who offer little more than lip service to address hatred and gun violence. How much more bloodshed must we endure while leaders try to score political points while offering zero solutions?”