Notable Police Shootings, Right-Wing Attacks on Women and Communities of Color, and Labor's Response

On a Saturday afternoon in August 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown, Jr., was fatally shot and killed by 28-year-old police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. This was the third killing of an unarmed black man by police officers in as many weeks. Eric Garner suffocated in an illegal chokehold in New York City. John Crawford, a new father, was killed in an Ohio Walmart while waiting to purchase a pellet gun. Each incident was captured on video and shared widely on social media.

What follows is a partial timeline of notable police shootings and right-wing attacks on women and communities of color, and the labor movement's response to these atrocities. 


February 26 – Trayvon Martin shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., for looking suspicious.

March 23 – Statement by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams on the death of Trayvon Martin.

May 25 – Coalition of Black Trade Unionists stand up for Trayvon Martin's parents.


July 13 – George Zimmerman acquitted of shooting Trayvon Martin for looking suspicious.

July 15 – AFL-CIO unions react to the acquittal verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin.

July 25 – AFL-CIO Executive Council adopted a statement calling for social and economic justice for communities of color, sparking a discussion about the impact racial bias has on labor.


July 17 – Eric Garner was suffocated in an illegal chokehold by NYPD for selling loose cigarettes.

July 31 – AFL-CIO presents BlackLivesMatter video to its Executive Council and a commitment to doubling down on racial and economic justice in the labor movement.

August 9 – Mike Brown is shot in the back with his hands up in Ferguson, Mo., for looking suspicious.

November 22 – Tamir Rice, 12, is shot in a public park in Cleveland for playing with a BB gun.

December 24 – IUPAT responds to an NYPD shooting.


February 25 AFL-CIO Executive Council launches the Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice.

March 6 – Tony Robinson, 19, is shot and killed by Madison, Wisc., police officer responding to reports of someone disrupting traffic.

March 9 – Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old air force veteran is shot and killed in Chamblee, Ga., while unarmed and naked.

March 13 – AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka releases a statement on the shooting of Ferguson, Mo., police officers.

April 2 – Eric Harris is shot and killed in Tulsa, Okla., by a reserve deputy officer who allegedly mistook his own gun for a taser.

April 4 – Walter Scott is shot and killed in North Charleston, S.C., by a police officer while running away from a traffic stop for a broken taillight.

April 19 – Freddie Gray, died ascribed to injuries to his spinal cord while being transported in a Baltimore police van. Freddie Gray’s sister is a letter carrier in Baltimore, and member of the union.

April 28 – As Baltimore erupted in riots, Donald Trump took to Twitter to sound off on how the situation was being handled. “Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”

May 22 – Cleveland Federation of Labor launched a campaign to fight against racism.

June 5 – Trump has blamed Blacks and Hispanics for the nation’s violent crime, tweeting: “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and Hispanics – a tough subject – must be discussed.”

June 8 – Dajerria Becton is body-slammed by a police officer at a McKinney, Texas, pool party.

June 16 – Trump said that Mexican immigrants were "bringing drugs. And they're bringing crime. And they're rapists." When MSNBC asked him about it the next day, he reiterated: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” 

June 17 – Charleston Church massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church. During a prayer service, nine people were killed by a gunman. The murderer was 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who later confessed that he committed the shooting in hopes of igniting a race war.

June 28 – “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” said Donald Trump.

July 9 – Trump thinks President Barack Obama is “stupid.” He says he is still uncertain whether Obama was born in the United States.

July 13 – Sandra Bland is found dead hanging in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, after being arrested for a minor traffic violation.

July 18 – When Trump insulted Arizona Sen. John McCain on July 18 saying the former prisoner of war (who was tortured at the infamous Hanoi Hilton) was not a war hero, most observers felt he had crossed the line and the statement would doom his campaign.

July 23  NNU releases Statement on Black Lives Matter and the Health Impact of Societal Racial Disparities (

July 24 – Several union leaders gathered together in Ohio for the National Convening of the Movement for Black Lives and provided door knocking opportunities for elections, workshops, and trainings.

July 25 – Univ. of California Academic Workers’ Union Calls on AFL-CIO To Terminate Police Union’s Membership (

July 29 – AFL-CIO Launches Plan for Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice (

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

August 7 – Christian Taylor, Arlington TX - Unarmed 19-year-old black man shot after allegedly getting into an altercation at a car dealership

August 7 – Fox News’ Megyn Kelly was also on the receiving end of Trump’s misogynistic comments. Following the first GOP debate in August, during which Trump felt singled out by Kelly’s “ridiculous” questions, Trump unleashed on Kelly on CNN the following night: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

Incidentally, among the questions Trump took offense to from Kelly during that debate regarded comments he has made in the past about women, such as calling some women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Trump quickly shot back that he was only referring to Rosie O’Donnell.

August 13 – Black Labor Organizers Urge AFL-CIO to Reexamine Its Ties to the Police (

August 19 – Trump’s racial incitement has already inspired hate crimes. Two brothers arrested in Boston last summer for beating up a homeless Latino man cited Trump’s anti-immigrant message when explaining why they did it.  

“Donald Trump was right — all these illegals need to be deported,” one of the men reportedly told police officers.

Trump did not even bother to distance himself from them. Instead, he suggested that the men were well-intentioned and had simply gotten carried away.

“I will say that people who are following me are very passionate,” Trump said. “They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

August 26  During a speech at an event in Iowa on August 26 talking about what a great negotiator he is, especially when dealing with the Chinese, Trump used broken English to impersonate Asian negotiators. “When these people walk into the room, they don’t say, ‘Oh hello, how’s the weather? It’s so beautiful outside. How are the Yankees doing? They’re doing wonderful, that’s great,’” Trump said. “They say, ‘We want deal!’”

Carl Hum of Asian Americans Advancing Justice said Trump’s mockery of Asians was a slap in the face to a community with deep roots in the U.S.

September 9 – Trump has also made disparaging comments about women, including presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, whom he referred to as “Carly whatever-the-hell-her-name is” and said has a face that makes her unelectable.

“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” Trump was quoted as saying in a September 9 Rolling Stone article. “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president … I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

September 20 – AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice Hearing in Cleveland, Ohio at the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation Building.

September 20 – AFL-CIO Pride at Work puts out Black Lives Matter: A Resolution on Race Relations (

November 22  Trump retweeted a racially loaded image of a masked Black man holding a handgun in a threatening manner alongside false statistics attempting to show that Blacks kill more people of all other races. One “fact” stated that Blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims in 2015, when, according to the FBI, the number is closer to 15 percent.

That tweet, incidentally, came a day after a Black protester was physically assaulted and removed from a Trump rally in Alabama.

The 31-year-old Black Lives Matter activist was shoved down, kicked and tackled for disrupting Trump by shouting, “Black lives matter!”

“Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!” The crowd responded with cheers.

The following morning on Fox News, Trump seemed to justify the violence against the protester: “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

October 21  AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice Hearing in Alameda, California at the Allen Temple Baptist Church. Followed by a town hall on mass incarceration with community organizers and elected officials.

November 24 – Trump’s target was Serge Kovaleski, a reporter who has a congenital condition that limits the movement of his joints.

At a rally in Alabama, Trump attacked a column written by Kovaleski, now at The New York Times, in which Kovaleski rebukes Trump and accuses him of lying. Speaking at the rally, Trump shared an excerpt from the article before flailing his arms seemingly in a way to mimic Kovaleski’s disability.

December 3 – The previous week, Trump addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition, calling himself “a negotiator like you folks,” one of many Jewish stereotypes the Manhattan real-estate mogul dropped throughout his speech.

“Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals?” he joked. “Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.” 

December 7 – Trump said that all Muslim individuals, including those who hold American citizenship, should be banned from entering the United States until the country reviews its re-entry, immigration and visitation policies and procedures.

He also claimed thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11, called for a national database to track all Muslims and advocated for surveillance of mosques.

Trump commented there should be many systems “beyond databases” and he’d get Muslims registered by using “good management.” When asked by a reporter, “Is there a difference between requiring Muslims to register and Jews in Nazi Germany?” Trump responded, “You tell me.”

December 11  Boston Labor Council and “And Still I Rise” panel discussion with Black women labor leaders and Race Commissioners.

December 12  AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice hearing in Boston, Massachusetts at IBEW Local 103

December 19 – Trump outdid himself with vulgar banter toward Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Dec. 21. The real estate mogul used the term “schlonged,” which is Yiddish slang for a man’s genitals, to describe Clinton’s loss in the 2008 Democratic presidential race against then Sen. Barack Obama.

“She was going to beat Obama,” Trump said. “… She was going to beat — she was favored to win — and she got schlonged. She lost.”

Also at the Michigan rally, Trump criticized Clinton for returning to the stage late after a bathroom break during the Democratic presidential debate in Dec.

“I thought she gave up,” he said. “Where did she go? Where did Hillary go? They had to start the debate without her. Phase II. I know where she went. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to talk about it.”

December 26  Bettie Jones, Chicago, accidentally shot and killed by police while she tried to help a neighbor deal with a domestic disturbance


January 14 – 1,100 rank and file members, organizers and community leaders gathered together in Washington DC for the AFL-CIO Annual Martin Luther King Conference. This is the largest gathering of workers of color in the labor movement.

February 1 – AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice Hearing in St. Louis, Missouri at UFCW local 655.

February 12 – AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice Hearing in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the MRLF headquarters.

February 28 – Three times in a row on Feb. 28, Trump sidestepped opportunities to renounce white nationalist and former KKK leader David Duke, who told his radio audience last week that voting for any candidate other than Trump is “really treason to your heritage.”

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he would condemn Duke and say he didn’t want a vote from him or any other white supremacists, Trump claimed that he didn’t know anything about white supremacists or about Duke himself. When Tapper pressed him twice more, Trump said he couldn’t condemn a group he hadn’t yet researched.

March 4  AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice Hearing in Birmingham, Alabama.

March 12 – Peter Gaines, Houston TX -  unarmed black man shocked with a stun gun and shot after vandalizing a traffic sign

April 26 – During Trump’s post election news conference, he said that Mrs. Clinton was leading in the Democratic race because of her gender. "The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman's card. She's got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card, and the beautiful thing is, women don't like her."

May 6 – CGEU Conference support for the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement (

May 27 – On the judge who is hearing a case involving Trump University, he accuses a judge of being motivated by race: "I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I think it’s a disgrace that he’s doing this. ... The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican. ... I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump."

June 18 – South Carolina AFL-CIO and Working Families Send Condolences to the Families and Friends of Victims of the Charleston Shooting (

July 5  Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge LA was shot and killed by police for selling CDs outside a convenience store

July 6 – Philando Castile of Falcon Heights MN was shot and killed by a police officer four times during a traffic stop as he sat in the front seat of his car.

July 7 – Statement by AFL-CIO President Trumka on the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (

July 7 – Shooting of Dallas police officers. Micah Xavier Johnson killed 5 officers and injured 9 others. He stated that he was angry over police shootings of black men and that he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. He had no connections to peaceful, Black Lives Matter organized protests.

July 7 – Statement by CBTU President Terry L. Melvin on recent police-related shootings (

July 7 – The Minnesota AFL-CIO and Teamsters 320 issued a statement mourning the shooting death of Philando Castile (

July 8 – Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the death of police officers in Dallas (

July 12 – AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre releases an email blast mourning the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling (

July 14   UNITE HERE Lunchroom Workers and Allies Hold Vigil Honoring Philando Castile

July 17  Shooting of Baton Rouge police officers - a Missouri man ambushed and killed three law officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge. Gavin Long, a former Marine, was identified as the killer.

July 18  Charles Kinsey, North Miami FL - unarmed therapist non-fatally shot by police as he laid on the ground with his hands up while attempting to calm an autistic patient. (Survives)

July 18 – Statement by UFCW Assistant Communications Director Amber Sparks calls for a National Summit on Justice that will broadcast a conversation on race and violence (

July 19  Donald Trump officially accepts the nomination for the Republican Party.  He is the first modern Republican to win the nomination based on racial prejudice

At the Republican convention, Donald Trump officially seized the mantle of the "law and order" candidate — an obvious dog whistle playing to white anxieties of black crime, even though crime in the U.S. is historically low.