The News Scroll 25 July 2020  Last Updated at 11:54 pm | Source: PTI

Fight for police-free schools has been years in the making

Fight for police-free schools has been years in the making
Phoenix, Jul 25 (AP) The group of protesters started out small, just a handful of students who told officials at school board meetings why they wanted police out of Madison, Wisconsin, schools.

Over four years, their numbers grew but not their results. So they took to yelling from the audience and making emotional pleas about how police make students, especially those of color, feel unsafe.

But officers remained at four high schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District until George Floyd''s death by Minneapolis police ushered in a national reckoning over police brutality and racial injustice.

That''s when the school board president, who had long resisted removing police, had a change of heart. Madison quickly joined cities like Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver and Portland, Oregon, in abandoning partnerships with police on campuses.

The move may seem sudden, but it follows years of well-organized, student-driven action. Only now, more grown-ups are listening.

Police officers assigned to schools wear a uniform, carry guns and get specialised training.

Critics say having armed police on campus often results in Black students being disproportionately arrested and punished, leading to what they call the schools-to-prison pipeline.

Supporters say police make schools safer and that having someone trained to deal with young people is more effective than having random officers respond to large fights and other problems.

At the Madison school board protests, “we would basically go up there, be nice and when you would look up, when you were talking, they would be looking down at their phone or their computer.

So that made us even more frustrated,” said Shyra Adams, 20, who graduated from high school in 2017 and is now a youth justice coordinator with Freedom Inc., the group behind the protests.

Adams says opponents called her and others thugs or angry protesters — “anything but youths."

She attended nearly every monthly meeting since 2016, sharing how she was injured when two school resource officers broke up a fight between her and a boy she said was bullying her friend. Adams said the officers twisted her arm. They let the boy, who was white, go to class, and he got two days of suspension, while she got five.

“I knew there''s absolutely no way I can build a relationship with somebody like that,” Adams said of the officers.

The movement to pull police from campuses has been decades in the making but grew substantially with student activism in the last four years, said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project National Office, a nonprofit focusing on civil rights and justice.

“We were noticing that when you have police in schools, you have a culture clash. And that culture clash is that their job is to protect people but also they enforce the criminal code, and they were enforcing criminal code on regular teen behavior,” Dianis said of the early beginnings of the movement.

Recent national data on arrests at schools is hard to come by, but studies from a few years ago show that Black students are disproportionately punished both in schools and by law enforcement.

During the 2015-2016 school year, Black students accounted for 15% of total enrollment but 31% of students referred to law enforcement or arrested, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection put out by the U.S. Department of Education''s Office for Civil Rights.(AP) RUP RUP

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI
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