In Actions, Bus Riders Union, Fight For The Souls OF The Cities, Strategy, The Labor Community Strategy Center

To Interim Superintendent Riley, Board President Gonez and all LAUSD Board Members,

The Police Free LAUSD Coalition is writing in response to the egregious shooting by a school police officer outside of Carver Middle School on Wednesday, September 29th. We continue to demand the full defunding of the LA School Police Department (LASPD) and reinvestment of those funds into a reimagining of school safety. This should include fully non-carceral, culturally competent, restorative and community-based forms of violence/harm prevention, intervention and de-escalation – including significant social-emotional supports for students and families. Further, as the district takes these steps we call for the immediate disarming of LASPD and removal of all lethal weapons from all LAUSD employees. The shooting by school police in Los Angeles came only a day after a horrific, and ultimately fatal, shooting of a young woman by a school security officer in Long Beach. 

Guns have no place in or near our schools. The horrifying shooting of an individual outside Carver Middle School by a school police officer shows exactly how dangerous it is for LAUSD to continue to employ and arm school police officers. Guns create more violence and endanger our students and communities, rather than reducing violence and increasing safety. The day before the shooting by school police in Los Angeles, a school security officer in Long Beach shot an 18 year old woman who was in the backseat of a car that was driving away from a fight that had already been broken up – ultimately resulting in her death. The shooting at Carver Middle School – coupled with the shooting by the Long Beach school safety officer, and the recent video-captured attack on a Black teen by LA County Sheriff’s employed by Antelope Valley Unified – underscores the failure of school police as an institution. School police have failed to make LAUSD schools safer and they create fear and trauma for students. According to reports, the man shot by LASPD was seemingly disturbed and was potentially experiencing a mental health episode. With investment into alternative forms of school and community safety, this situation could have been de-escalated. Instead, it was further escalated with the use of lethal force by LASPD within a low-income, predominantly Black & brown South Central community.

LAUSD is responsible for the shooting outside Carver Middle School and must take action to guarantee that this never happens again. The School Board and the Administration must immediately disband LASPD, disarm all LAUSD employees and invest robustly in student supports and positive, community-based safety initiatives. LASPD’s history of violence speaks for itself. In 2019, another LASPD officer shot a civilian following an alleged car-jacking. And there have been numerous instances in recent years of LASPD officers pepper-spraying or otherwise abusing students for regular adolescent behavior; disproportionately criminalizing Black youth; and, at one point, even receiving 61 AR-15s, three grenade launchers and one MRAP Tank from the Department of Defense 1033 program (which they ultimately were forced to return only after community pressure). When all this is taken together, it is clear that this shooting was not an isolated incident, but rather part of a consistent and disturbing trend of violence by LA School Police.

Since the school board voted to cut the LASPD budget by $25 million in 2020 to instead invest in Black student achievement and community-based alternatives to school safety, LASPD seems to be on a rampage of retaliation against Black and brown youth and LAUSD communities. During the start of the 2021-22 school year, LASPD leaders have repeatedly used incidents of violence and trauma in LAUSD to advocate for restoring their budgets and unlimited access to campuses – even while no proof of their effectiveness in preventing such violence exists, and Black and brown students still regularly share experiences of their own traumatization at the hands of school police. 

Over the last several years, LAUSD has taken important steps towards reforming school climates to support students by eliminating policies like willful defiance suspensions, daily random searches, cops stationed on campus and the use of pepper spray against students. In their place, LAUSD has created or funded alternatives like restorative justice, community based safe passage, violence prevention and intervention programs, the Black Student Achievement Plan, and more. But these programs need the full resources and necessary attention to ensure their success. The continued existence of school police within LAUSD – including those rebranded as “school resource” or “school safety” officers – runs contrary to the implementation of these forward thinking and effective programs and will exacerbate the systemic racism that exists in our schools.

Furthermore, especially following an unprecedented global health pandemic with severe mental and social-emotional fallouts, the district must enact an urgent shift towards nonviolent deescalation of mental health crises. These deescalation protocols must not include police – armed or disarmed – and should include the creation of a stronger Mental Health/Crisis Response team within the district and greater communication and coordination with city and county mental health professionals. 

There is no empirical evidence in existence that supports that the presence of school police – armed or otherwise – makes campuses safer. Meanwhile, there is much empirically verified data indicating that consistent contact between students and law enforcement can and does have severe negative impacts on social, emotional and educational outcomes for youth, especially for Black, brown Indigenous and other students of color – and can directly lead to their severe traumatization and death. The solution is to fully defund and disband the LASPD, disarm all LAUSD employees immediately, zero out the more than $53 million that LAUSD spends on unnecessary and dangerous police every year, and invest heavily in student supports and positive safety initiatives.

The Police Free LAUSD Steering Committee consists of: 

Students Deserve 

Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles

Brothers Sons Selves

Labor Community Strategy Center

CADRE

InnerCity Struggle 

Community Coalition

UTLA

Social Justice Learning Institute

Reclaim Our Schools LA

ACLU SoCal

Collective for Liberatory Lawyering

 

Additional Signers Include:

Black Lives Matter – Long Beach

Khmer Girls in Action – Long Beach

Brotherhood Crusade

Alliance for Educational Justice & the National Campaign for Police Free Schools 

Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Southern California

Fannie Lou Hamer Institute

BLD PWR

Cancel The Contract AV

Afrikan Black Coalition

Youth Justice Coalition

Alliance for Boys and Men of Color

Los Angeles Youth Uprising Coalition (LAYUP)

Advancement Project National Office

Center for Popular Democracy

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) – LA

Black Organizing Project (BOP)

Juntos

Changeist 

Californians for Justice

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Women’s Leadership Project

The Row LA – The Church Without Walls

Creating Justice LA

Clergy 4 Black Lives

White People 4 Black Lives

Education Justice Alliance

Palestinian Youth Movement LA-OC-IE Chapter

People’s City Council

American Indian Movement – SoCal

API Equality-LA

Latinx Faculty for Black Lives

Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN)

Democratic Socialists of America – Long Beach

Gente Organizada

Justice For Ernie Serrano

The Alliance of RI Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE)

Pro Bono ASL

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)

Puente Human Rights Movement

California Faculty Association – LA Chapter

Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California

The Love We Don’t See

SoCal 350 Climate Action

Bend The Arc Jewish Action, Southern California

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice 

Party for Socialism & Liberation – Los Angeles

Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition

Dance for Black Lives LA

ANSWER Coalition – Los Angeles

Public Advocates

Ground Game LA

EveryBlackGirl, Inc.

Say Their Names LA

Freedom, Inc.

Stonewall Democratic Club

Invisible Men

Somos Familia Valle

Feminists in Action Los Angeles

Chinatown Community for Equitable Development

Brilliant Minds Youth Foundation

Venice Resistance

Padres & Jovenes Unidos

Girls for Gender Equity

Providence Student Union

Sistas & Brothas United-Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition

Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

Urban Youth Collaborative

Rethink New Orleans

Texas Appleseed

BLM Louisville

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