Statement on Walter Wallace: We Believe Black Lives Matter
Last night, Philadelphia Police Department officers murdered Walter Wallace - a Black man in crisis, and a son, father, husband, brother, and neighbor, in front of his family. We are - yet again - mourning this senseless and completely avoidable loss of life at the ends of structural racism and police violence in our city. We stand with our Black colleagues, students, and families. We stand with people who have been protesting and demanding action for years, throughout this week, and who will continue to do so in the future. Along with many organizations in Philadelphia, we are demanding answers, consequences, accountability, and more.
Working Educators is an organization of PFT members across every bargaining unit in our union, community members, parents in the School District of Philadelphia - and more. We know that Walter Wallace’s murder is also a part of a larger system of oppression - which also exists in our classrooms, our schools, and our public education system. As educators and union members, we promise to continue to work towards dismantling the white supremacy, structural violence, and traumatizing systems that we see in our district every day.
We believe that Black Lives Matter. When our neighbors are gunned down by the police, our city government is telling us that they don't.
We encourage you to join and share the work of organizations in Philadelphia that have been taking action - and will continue to - throughout the week and after:
- For school staff, this resource from the Racial Justice Organizing Committee provides guidance on how to discuss police violence with students of all ages.
- Donate to support Walter Wallace’s family
- Donate to the Philadelphia Bail Fund to support protestors and all Philadelphians who are caught in the unjust bail system
- Follow Black Lives Matter Philly for updates on actions steps
- Learn more about Philadelphia Student Union’s campaign for Police Free Schools as we build towards re-imagining school safety and reallocating budgets. We must have more counselors, related service providers, nurses, and paraprofessionals in our buildings. We need more systems of trauma-informed support instead of more oppressive policing.
This week is already one that has left many in upheaval. We have seen the confirmation of a justice to the court whose anti-immigrant, homophobic, and racist platform must be stopped. The death toll due to COVID continues to rise. These attacks on our people are attacks on all people and our school communities. Our collective solidarity and liberation is bound up in that of our colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Here are some additional steps we are taking today:
*Sign and share this pledge from Philly We Rise, along with other Philadelphia community organizations - to count every vote, and stop any potential coup, as the presidential election approaches this week.
*Join canvassing, phone banking, and text banking through the coming week before Election Day. You can join UNITE HERE’s efforts here.
*Sign and share the petition to Keep Philadelphia Students and Educators safe, in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic, as we push back against unsafe school reopening while COVID cases rise. As the petition states, if we are to affirm that Black Lives Matter with any integrity, we must protect Philadelphia students and their families, 86% of whom are non-white, from COVID-19 and environmental hazards. It is literally a matter of life and death.” This campaign is an issue of school safety and fighting racial injustice at every level.
*We are holding meetings throughout the fall. Please email [email protected] to be added to our mailing list and join our organizing work.
Working Educators Steering Committee