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UAW Striker Killed on John Deere Picket Line

Jalopnik logo Jalopnik 10/27/2021 Collin Woodard
© Photo: Justin Sullivan / Staff (Getty Images)

A United Auto Workers striker was hit and killed by a car this morning, as reported by OurQuadCities. Not a lot is known at this time, but we do know the striker was hit near the picket line at about 6:00 a.m. local time this morning. Their death has been confirmed by the county coroner, and you can expect more information once the family has been notified.

Journalist Jonah Furman also reported the death, saying union members had previously complained about poor lighting in the area. They have also reportedly been pelted with eggs and been threatened by trucks swerving in their direction.

This news comes a little more than a week after a salaried Deere worker reportedly hit a UAW striker with their car. As we previously reported, it also follows other violence against union picketers and other protesters. But as the comments section on that previous article shows, plenty of people still insist on blaming those being attacked, not the ones literally driving their cars into actual human beings.


Video: Thousands of John Deere workers go on strike (NBC News)

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It’s currently not clear what happened in this case, though, obviously, it’s a tragedy that should never have happened. You know, because it’s still bad to kill someone with your car even if you don’t mean to.

Unfortunately, lots of people have been killing other people with their cars lately. Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. skyrocketed in 2020, posting the biggest year-over-year increase ever recorded, an increase the Governors Highway Safety Association called “shocking and unprecedented.” Further, vehicles have been used as weapons in increasing cases, especially against groups of people gathered together to protest a cause — like the 90+ cases of vehicle-ramming incidents that took place during 2020's nationwide George Floyd protests. Whether the Deere worker’s death was part of an intentional ramming remains to be seen, but it is harrowing that it comes during yet another protest.

Deere has released a statement on the death, saying, “We are saddened by the tragic accident and death of one of our employees who was struck by a vehicle before dawn this morning while crossing the Milan Beltway. All of us at John Deere express our deepest condolences to their family and friends. We have no further details as we await reports from law enforcement.”

Update, 2:47 p.m.: Some language in the post has been tweaked to make clear that we don’t know all the details. Also, the UAW passed along the following statements.

“On behalf of the UAW and all working families, we mourn the passing of our UAW brother,” said Ray Curry, UAW President. “It is a somber time to lose a member who made the ultimate sacrifice in reporting to picket for a better life for his family and coworkers.”

[...]

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our brother who was reporting to the picket line. Our brother was fighting for what is right and we all mourn for his family and co-workers,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4. “Through our tears, we continue to picket and honor the solidarity of our fallen brother. But we do this with heavy hearts today.”

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