AFSCME President, Next Wavers Determined to Seek Justice for Trayvon

by Kate Childs Graham  |  July 14, 2013

AFSCME President, Next Wavers Determined to Seek Justice for Trayvon AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders leads Next Wave Conference participants in a moment of silence. (Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah)

DETROIT – Just hours after the verdict was handed down in the George Zimmerman trial, Next Wavers joined AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders for the final day of their conference in Detroit, Mich.

“Sisters and brothers, as a trade unionist, I stand here appalled. As an African-American man, I stand here angry. As a father of two young men, I stand here heartbroken,” President Saunders began.

He went on to remind the young AFSCME members that this is about more than one trial, “it’s about a broken system.”

The room fell silent.

He continued, “We take these moments of silence, but we can’t afford to remain silent. We must gather our energy, our passion and, yes, our anger. The struggle continues, sisters and brothers.”

When President Saunders announced that AFSCME would join with the NAACP and the National Action Network in pursuing civil rights charges through the Justice Department, the room erupted in applause.

Later, Van Jones, host of CNN’s Crossfire, gave the conference’s closing keynote address. He began, “I want to apologize to your generation. You all should not have to be dealing with this kind of stuff.”

He called “Stand Your Ground” legislation – put forth by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC – “the privatization of racial violence.”

Jones said, “You might feel powerless. That is an illusion.”

Please visit to take action. As President Saunders told the Next Wavers, “I’m counting on you and we have to count on each other. With our voices raised together, I believe we can bring justice. We can bring peace.”

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