A caravan of union leaders and members drove through Downtown Miami on Wednesday calling on reforms to police departments, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, and greater attention to communities impacted by the coronavirus.
“We are fighting hard for this fight to restructure this country the right way, and end this 400-year history of racism and structural racism, systemic racism, whatever you want to call it, it’s time to end it,” said Martha Baker, president of the SEIU Local 1991.
The caravan made a brief stop outside Miami-Dade County Hall, where commissioners agreed on Tuesday to move forward with a civilian oversight panel of police.
The group ended the rally at St. John’s Baptist Church.
Organizers have called on Congress to pass the HEREOS Act, which is currently in the Senate. The bill would provide a second round of economic stimulus, extend federal unemployment benefits, and provide money to cities facing deficits.
“What am I supposed to do? I’m three months living on my savings. What happens when my savings run out? I’m going to go homeless? I’m 62 years old. I have to pay my bills. I have rent, I have cable, I have electricity, said Alec Smith.
He was laid off shortly after the pandemic.
The group’s plea for unity in reforms was undercut when NBC 6 noticed one of the speakers was wearing a hat with the “eyes of Hugo Chavez” on it, an offensive imagine to Venezuelan exiles living in South Florida.
NBC 6 asked the speaker whether he understood why some people might take issue with the symbolism and he refused to answer the question.
A caravan of workers also organized in Plantation. The group gathered outside of the AFL-CIO’s office and called on lawmakers to provide another round of relief for people impacted by the virus before the July recess.
“A lot of our workers do not have the access to the things that they need right now. They are not getting the type of respect from our lawmakers, the people who can push this thing through,” said Rick Hoye.