The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has spoken out against the death of George Floyd and racism in the U.S.
“We share in the heartbreak, frustration and anger surrounding the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police,” the union said in a statement Tuesday. “We stand in solidarity with the African American community as together we grieve yet another lawless, racist killing in our country. The principle that all people are equal and all people are deserving of respect and fair treatment is a cornerstone of the labor movement.”
IATSE has more than 150,000 members who work as technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry.
“As a labor union that represents Black members and people of color of all ethnicities, we have an ethical duty to do everything we can to root out racism in our communities, our homes, and our workplaces, once and for all,” the union said. “While we are distraught, shaken and angered by the death of George Floyd, we must all join in the conversation for advocacy, effective change, fairness and justice for the African American community.”
“We cannot sit and stay silent as people mourn yet another member of our community, and only the memory of the name be followed by the hashtag #ICantBreathe,” the statement continued. “We must and will apply pressure across the board for systematic change to value Black lives through full and unified equal protection under the law, public health, medical care, education, housing, business development, and economic change and equality. We are prepared to advocate for specific, necessary policy and legislation, and we stand ready to lock arms with allies who are primarily focused on racial justice and reform.”
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video using his knee to pin down Floyd, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin was captured on video pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as the handcuffed 46-year-old repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd later died on May 25.
Floyd’s death set off days of protests across the country as demonstrators also spoke out against other recent incidents of police brutality against Black Americans. The IATSE statement said it was “absolutely unacceptable” for police to target reporters and crews at those protests.
“Although buildings are burning, a life has been taken, and we cannot lose sight of the countless times our brothers and sisters of the African American community have been robbed of their lives by acts of injustice, racism and bigotry,” IATSE said. “Still, we denounce violence and the destruction of property perpetrated by opportunists who seek to take advantage of this painful moment for personal gains. Additionally, it is absolutely unacceptable for the police to target reporters and their crews with violence or arrest for doing their constitutionally protected jobs.”
The statement concluded by saying, “As people of conscience, it is each of our individual’s duty to keep the momentum of the
moment to evoke change by educating ourselves on the issues, speaking to our local politicians, and getting involved with local social justice chapters. Together, we must continue to peacefully protest for change, protest for justice, protest for inclusivity, and protest for equality.”
Leaders of other major Hollywood unions — SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America — have recently issued statements of support for the protests.