Statement of Solidarity with Wisconsin Protestors and those on Strike for Black Lives

August 28th, 2020

We, the Organizing Committee of Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United (GWU), are in full support of the protestors in Wisconsin, the NBA, WNBA, MLB, NFL, and other professional athletes currently on strike, and all others who are now either protesting, withholding their labor, or otherwise supporting the struggle for Black lives. 

Earlier this week, Kenosha, WI police attempted to murder unarmed Black man Jacob Blake, shooting him 7 times in the back as he tried to leave the scene of a dispute that he was reportedly mediating. His three children were in the car he was entering when he was shot.

Since this act of white supremacist police violence, a renewed wave of protests has hit the streets in Wisconsin. VGWU is in complete solidarity with the protestors.

On Tuesday night, Kyle Rittenhouse–a 17-year-old white teenager who murdered 2 protestors and severely injured another–was allowed to freely walk through lines of armed police in heavy riot gear, even as protestors shouted that he was the shooter and begged for action from police. It was only early on Wednesday, after Rittenhouse was allowed to escape back to his home in Illinois, that he was arrested and charged. In their own act of white supremacist violence against Blake and their support of white supremacist violence by Rittenhouse, the riot police, and the thousands of federal and state National Guard troops that are on their way to join them have once again shown which side they are on. 

The VGWU Organizing Committee strongly condemns these acts of racist police terror, and we are in full Solidarity with those who returned to the streets in Wisconsin and other communities to continue the fight against white supremacy. We call for justice for Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all other victims of white supremacist police terror. 

In solidarity with the fight against white supremacy, we call on the Vanderbilt administration to sever the university’s ties with the Metro Nashville Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, de-fund its private police force, and redirect these funds to provide educational opportunities for Black students. In doing so, we reiterate demands that we first raised in June, demands that received no response from the administration. We hold now as we did earlier that whether Vanderbilt’s commitment to “combat racism” is real or merely rhetorical will be seen in its budget. 

In Solidarity,

Organizing Committee
Vanderbilt Graduate Workers United