“I never imagined we’d be standing here again,” Sheri Davis-Faulkner, a mother, an assistant professor at Rutgers University, and a part of the new Philadelphia Black Workers Center Project, said outside City Hall at the Labor for Black Lives Coalition’s vigil for George Floyd, two years after his murder at the hands of Minneapolis police, on May 25, 2022.
Davis-Faulkner recalled marching for Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Floyd in 2020 with her son. Through tears, she said she struggled to drop her son off at school Wednesday. “My body just couldn’t be more than a mile away from him, so I dropped him off at school this morning and I just stayed in the area.”
She was one of about 50 workers who gathered in solidarity to remember Floyd and talk about policy change with members of Local 3012, Unite Here, SEIU, the Philly Student Union, and UWHP.
Workers raised fists for Floyd in silence and again when pastor Nicholas O’Rourke, organizing director of the Working Families Party, sang Sam Cook’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”
Keon Liberaty, president of Teamsters Local 3012, reflected on the uprising that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic after Floyd’s murder. Essential workers, many Black, were getting sick on the job, and some died.
“Nothing gets done until we go into the streets.” Liberaty called on organized labor leaders to rally workers to fight for more than just police accountability, but to stand up against under-funded schools, toxic buildings, and environmental racism.
Roman Catholic High School student Joshua Sor, a member of the Philly Student Union, was cheered when he said he was determined to see more money allocated to bettering communities in the city, rather than policing them. He said his sadness that George Floyd would never get to see his daughter grow up had turned to resentment.
The vigil was closed in prayer, “We cherish the ability to self-determine.”
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