The Strategy Center has worked in Collaboration with a broad coalition of movement groups fighting to end the School to Prison Pipeline. Recently we had a great breakthrough in Defunding the LA School Police Department by $25 Million — 35%. Thanks to the great work of Taking Action Student Members, InnerCity Struggle, Students Deserve, Black Lives Matter, and the Brothers Sons Selves Coalition, Board Members Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez, Nick Melvoin, and Jackie Goldberg. Please take a moment to read a great article on the campaign written by Eric Mann: https://bit.ly/3j0hCIY
Today November 17th 2020 Superintendent Austin Beutner’s Task Force plans to roll out the findings of its LA School Police Survey sent to LAUSD stakeholders. Emily Zamora and Channing Martinez were able to participate in the LAUSD Committee of the Whole with the following public comments.
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Hello my Name is Emily Zamora I’m an Organizer with the Labor Community Strategy Center. I currently attend Santa Monica College and I’m an alumni of Ouchi High School.
I want to first start by again thanking the four board members for standing with Black Students and Black people in a time of great momentum following the murder of George Floyd. Thank you Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez, Nick Melvoin, and Jackie Goldberg.
A coalition of organizations including the Strategy Center, Students Deserve, Black Lives Matter, InnerCity Struggle and the Brothers Sons Selves Coalition came together to make the $25 Million-35% Defund Happen, and more than the Superintendent’s task force, we are the experts who represent Students, Parents, Teachers and Community members.
The Brothers Sons Selves Coalition collected a survey of more than 3000 students documenting the police harassment of Black and Brown Students in LAUSD. Million Dollar Hoods released a study showing the criminalization of Black and Brown middle and elementary level students. And the Strategy Center in 2011 released Black Brown and Over Policed which showed that Black boys in particular were and are targeted more than 20 times of their white peers with criminalization. Study after study has proven that Police in Schools equal Criminalization of Students especially Black and Latino Students.
During my time at Ouchi High School, I had a different experience from most public high schools being that we did not have police officers checking our every move. Instead, we had unarmed security guards, deans, and counselors to help solve disputes among our student body. There was no need for police officers on our campus and the alternative security method fostered an emotionally and physically safe environment that did not promote the school to prison pipeline. If safety is the issue we are trying to address, then we should also be focusing on the trauma that is being caused to our black and brown students when reprimanded by police officers on what should be “safe” school grounds.
I call on the School Board to ensure that the $25 million cut from LASPD is used to support Black Students in LAUSD including using the money for more Psychiatric Social Workers, College Counselors, unarmed campus aides and more to support Black student achievement, as stated in the June 30th motion.
Further, I call on the School Board to ensure that the voices of impacted youth and families are consistently prioritized in decisions about school safety and that you meaningfully incorporate the recommendations made by youth leaders and community groups – chiefly to completely defund the LA School Police Department and use the total amount and more to support the dwindling population of Black Students in LAUSD.
My name is Channing Martinez, I’m the Director of Organizing with the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union. I work with students through our Taking Action Social Justice Clubs at Augustus Hawkins High School, Roosevelt High School Ouchi High School and New Roads School.
In light of the Superintendent reporting the results from its survey i want to take a moment to once again re-affirm all those who made the $25million-35% cut a reality including board members Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez, Nick Melvoin, Jackie Goldberg, My fellow organizers and students at the Strategy Center, InnerCity Struggle, Students Deserve, Black Lives Matter, and the Brothers Sons Selves Coalition.
The Strategy Center was part of a broad coalition of Students, Parents, Teachers, and Community Organizations which sent a letter to Superintendent Austin Beautner detailing the illegitimacy of the task force given that the task force ever publicly its full scope including whether they will seriously consider the option of fully defunding the LA School Police Department.
In this time of Covid we’ve seen the beauty of how movements can push the country forward making huge strides that many in government before the police murder of Geroge Folyd thought and said was impossible. The Bus Riders Union as one example has been fighting for Free Public Transportation for all passengers citing the mass arrests and citations of Black Passengers, many of which are/were LAUSD students. The Metro for years and years claimed it was impossible to provide while spending tenfold the cost of Free transit on rail construction and contracts.
In 2019 LAUSD Superintendent asked us to join a coalition advocating for Free Transportation for LAUSD students citing the looming number of houseless LAUSD students who rely on Public Transportation to commute to school who cannot afford the fare. If it were not for the current movement moment we’re in the LAUSD and the MTA would have carried on without a blink of the eye in ignoring the working class Black and Latino students suffering from criminalization on the buses and trains and in schools today and for the last 15+ years.
LAUSD students, Parents, Teachers, Community Groups don’t need another survey to prove that Police in Schools equals Criminalization equals colonial education, 20 years of fighting the School to Prison Pipeline has already proven the point! LAUSD targeted Black and Latino Students with Truancy Tickets and through much struggle the Strategy Center and others worked to stop those truancy tickets. You then targeted those same students with “willful Defiance” we Struggled again to end that practice with CADRE and other community organizations. You had Military Grade weapons that you were prepared to use on your own students citing that the 3 grenade launchers would be used with tear gas canisters as opposed to grenades, we struggled for 18 months, but finally convinced you to return the weapons and issue an apology to the Strategy Center and LAUSD constituents.
Now when Students are again seeing Black people being killed at the rate of more than one per every 24 hours, rightfully so they and we want to eliminate the possibility of any such situation ever happening on an LAUSD campus and the only way that would be possible is to completely divest.
There are such larger priorities that the LAUSD needs to address like the county wide issue of Black push-out in all government funded institutions. The Black population has dropped by more than 50% of the 1970’s level and with such a history of criminalization of students, LAUSD has to own up to some level of that push out and disappearance can be attributed to the history of its mass criminalization of Black students.
When one makes a mistake, you must quickly move to repair the mistake you made. I’m calling on the Board today to make our movement a priority, Move the $25million to supports for the Black Students we have left and make a public vote of confidence in Back students by illuminating the LA School Police department so as to make sure Black people know that it’s safe to bring their students to an LAUSD school without fear of any criminalization. Thank You.
Here are two meme summaries from the above public comments that can be shared with your networks. Please tag us on the following social media platforms: Facebook: @BusRidersUnion Twitter: @FightSoulCities Instagram: @FightSoulCities