Washington – The Presidents of the National Education Association and the Michigan Education Association today issued the following joint statement in response to the tragic killing of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese refugee, at the hands of a police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“On behalf of the more than 3 million members of the NEA, we express our deepest sympathies to the family of Patrick Lyoya. We mourn his tragic death at the hands of a law enforcement officer, whom we should be able to entrust to protect and respect the rights of all in our communities, no matter what we look like, the language we speak, or where we live. Our families deserve to be safe, our voices heard, and our rights respected.
“Carrying on with everyday activities – going to the grocery store, walking to school, visiting friends and even being pulled over for a minor traffic infraction – should not put our lives at risk. We know that a better future is possible. Justice is a government that cares for us, and invests in our futures so all of us can thrive. No exceptions.
“It is also past time to deliver the safety and accountably our communities deserve. Congress must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a first step to enacting meaningful reforms to end police brutality and restore faith in law enforcement agencies. Specifically, it would prohibit discriminatory profiling, ban chokeholds, and require federal and state police to use body cameras—important steps to help ensure police officers treat everyone with dignity and respect so that all of our communities are safe for every one of us,” said Pringle.
“Like so many others, I was saddened and angered to watch the horrific video of Patrick Lyoya’s senseless death,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “These haunting images beg questions about our local and national work to achieve racial justice and policing that meets the inclusive needs of our communities. I know students will be asking those tough questions in classrooms across Michigan today.
“Educators play an important role in fostering the dialogue necessary to tear down the institutions of racism and foster inclusive spaces for Michigan students and educators — no matter where they are from or how they look. MEA and our members are committed to collaborating with students, families and the community at large to increase understanding and belonging, as well as developing more equitable systems.
“On behalf of educators throughout Michigan, I want to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Patrick Lyoya, our solidarity with marginalized communities who rightfully feel anger and grief at this latest tragedy, and our desire for justice as investigations proceed into Mr. Lyoya’s death,” said Herbart.
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.
The mission of the MEA is to protect, advocate, and advance the rights of all education professionals to promote quality public education for all students.