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07/24/2020 | Organizing for Education Justice

Education Justice: We Will Not Stop Until All Schools are Police-free

In the last two months, we have seen historic movement towards police-free schools across the country. Minneapolis, Oakland, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Rochester, Milwaukee and other towns and cities around the country are on the path to ending policing in schools, and several CPD affiliates have been on the frontlines of the fight including Leaders Igniting Transformation in Milwaukee, WI, Urban Youth Collaborative in New York City, Latinos Unidos Siempre in Salem, Oregon, OnePennsylvania in Pittsburgh, PA, Make the Road Nevada in Las Vegas, and the Florida Student Power Network in Orange County, Florida.

At the same time, Trump and Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, have been ramping up pressure in an attempt to force schools to open in the fall despite there being clear evidence that school districts are not adequately equipped to do so safely. 

We are clear: for schools to safely reopen they must be police-free, adequately and equitably funded, and community centered. Below are snapshots of some of the incredible work being done across the CPD network, including a week of action for police-free schools last month. We are also gearing up for a national day of action on August 3rd, to demand nothing less than a safe return to schools. We hope all of you will join us in the fight for safe, equitable public education. 

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) (Milwaukee, WI): On June 18th, Leaders Igniting Transformation in Milwaukee made history! The Milwaukee Public School Board unanimously passed a resolution which ends all contracts between the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Public Schools. It also ends any contracts to buy or maintain criminalizing equipment, including metal detectors. The Board’s vote is a victory by and for Black and Brown students. This resolution is the culmination of 2.5 years of work by LIT youth leaders to defund police at MPS. Congratulations, LIT! 

Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) (New York, NY): Young people with UYC waged a powerful battle in the largest school district in the country, which spends $451 million per year policing students. For weeks leading up to the city council’s vote on the budget they held actions including: a plane fly over with the banner #POLICEFREESCHOOLS NOW, twitter series explaining policing in NYC Schools, call ins to city council members, illuminated near the City Hall encampment (#OccupyCityHall), banner dropped “Police Free Schools” at the Department of Education, and more. New York City failed its young people and passed a budget that will continue the rampant policing of Black and Brown young people. But, UYC will continue the fight until all schools are police-free. 

Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS), Salem, OR: The Black and Brown young people with LUS have been fighting hard. A video surfaced of one of the school board members wearing a blackface mask during an official school board meeting, which LUS publicised to draw attention to the racist behaviour of its school board members. LUS’s fight got national attention in VICE, and the video went viral. At a school board hearing, LUS turned out dozens of young people and more than 100 people submitted testimony, overwhelming against police in schools. Unfortunately, the board voted to keep funding police for now, but with a commitment to make a final decision on the presence of police in schools before the end of August. The young people have drawn their line: “We have been asked what would make us feel safe returning to schools...Black & Brown young people will not feel safe returning to school with police in schools and a racist school board.” Support them by sharing this twitter thread calling out the racist actions of the school board and sign their petition. They are close to winning this fight!   

OnePennsylvania (OnePA), Pittsburgh, PA: OnePA hosted an amazing rally with more than 300 community members dancing, chanting and singing in the rain. See coverage here, here, here. Their call for police-free schools is beginning to echo loudly in Pittsburgh. After the rally, 73 people testified at the school board meeting demanding police-free schools. There were so many testimonies, the board had to split their meeting into two days! They also launched a petition, which currently has about 2,000 signatures. Sign their petition to show your support! Over the next few weeks, OnePA will be keeping up the pressure to win this fight, including during a school board hearing this coming Monday. 

Make the Road Nevada’s Youth Power Project (MRNV), Las Vegas, NV: MRNV launched their police-free schools campaign! They held a rally (video) and turned out with forced to the School Board meeting. Clark County School District Police Department costs the district nearly $18.5 Million each year with 161 sworn law enforcement officers and 41 civilian officers. Young people demand an immediate removal of police from schools and for the district to dissolve its police department. Support Black and Brown young people in Nevada by signing their petition (bit.ly/policefree-ccsd) as their fight continues. 

Florida Student Power Network (FLSPN), Orange County, FL: On June 20th, Florida Student Power Network members young people, parents, & community members joined The People 4oh7 to shut down the i4 Millenia Mall for 8 minutes 46 seconds - commemorating the amount of time George Floyd's neck was knelt upon by the MPD. FLSPN attended the Orange County Public School Board virtual meeting and made public comments demanding an end to police in schools. They’re launching a petition soon to build towards their July school board meeting. Keep an eye out for more! 

We know that Make the Road New Jersey, Detroit Action, Make the Road Pennsylvania, and other affiliates are in this movement for police-free schools. The fight towards police free-schools will need all of us—our young people’s safety and futures depend on it.