On Friday, June 19 Boston Building Trades Union partners from across the industry took part in a ‘stand down’ event at all construction sites in Boston to honor George Floyd and observe the Juneteenth holiday.
At the Orient Height Public Housing Development project on Vallar Road union workers from Suffolk Construction, who are building an affordable housing project, stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The stand down event in Eastie was part of a citywide pause at all union construction sites in Boston to affirm Black Lives Matter during the Juneteenth holiday observation.
The Juneteenth holiday commemorates the ending of slavery in the U. S. Celebrating the holiday on June 19 gives communities a chance to learn about the positive contributions African Americans have made to society.
This year’s Juneteenth was more poignant given the backdrop of racial tension that has swept across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer.
At the Eastie event, Suffolk Construction union workers participated in the “stand down” that lasted for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that Minnapolis officer Derik Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd before he died.
At last Friday’s event, speakers and participants included Reese Caron, member, Boston Building Trades Unions; Alexis Jones, member, Boston Building Trades Unions; Darlene Lombos, Principal Officer of the Greater Boston Labor Council; Brian Doherty, General Agent, Boston Building Trades Unions; John Fish, Chairman and CEO, Suffolk; Linda Dorcena Forry, Vice President, Suffolk; and Derek Cherry, Project Executive, Suffolk.
Lombos said our country is on fire and many are fed up.
“Racism in all its forms must be abolished so that our multiracial working class can unite,” said Lombos. “The Labor Movement knows that we cannot win economic justice without racial justice, and that Black Lives Matter. It is time to act. We will say their names–George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and Tony McDade. We will grieve with our black families, friends, and neighbors who continue to suffer unimaginable violence and loss. We will speak up and speak out for more resources for black communities. We will march against police brutality and against any new jails. We will show up in the streets for homes for all, health care for all and good jobs for all. We will have hard conversations with each other to push for greater understanding, healing and unity. We will use our collective power to make sure black and brown people can breathe and thrive. We will organize to tax the rich so that we can defend and advance the public good. We will strategize and struggle together with our community partners. And we will fulfill our duty to fight for the new world that we know is possible. We are Boston’s Labor Movement and we fight for Black lives.”
Fish added that in the past several weeks we have seen heartbreak, anger and frustration over the tragic incidents of violence against people of color.
“This is a complicated multilayered issue that can not be addressed overnight but the time has come to take the systematic racism plaguing our country and end it once and for all,” said Fish. “It is time for action. It is time to take this personally. We have to ask ourselves what we can do to create a more diverse and inclusive world.”