What Happened to Jasmine Darwin?

What Happened to Jasmine Darwin?

State investigators are still looking into the case of a police officer who slammed a Rolesville High School student to the floor. While National attention has been placed on school policing since a nine-second video was posted on Twitter on Jan. 3 showing a Rolesville Police Officer picking up student Jasmine Darwin and dropping her to the floor. The Police Officer has been placed on PAID leave.

In response to the video, Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes organized a community meeting on the school-to-prison pipeline. She is interested in starting a conversation whether we should have school resource officers in our schools and, if we do, what should be their role.

Questions still exist about what happened at Rolesville High School.
An attorney for Darwin’s family says the student had been trying to break up a fight between two other girls when she was “slammed on the ground like a rag doll” and suffered a concussion.

The presence of police in schools has escalated dramatically in the last several decades, and the figures on arrests and referrals to law enforcement show disproportionate targeting of Black and Latino students. This is just one aspect of the school-to-prison pipeline, where some students are denied an opportunity to succeed, and instead are pushed out of school and into the juvenile or criminal justice system.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign has developed a set of policy recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers to end the regular presence of law enforcement in schools.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign has developed the following recommendations for schools, districts, states and federal policy-makers:

1. End the Regular Presence of Law Enforcement in Schools
We are calling for removal of any law enforcement personnel assigned to be present on a regular basis in schools, including sworn officers (and unsworn if they are armed security), municipal police officers, school police officers, school resource officers (SROs), sheriff’s deputies, parole and probation officers, tribal officers, truancy officers, ICE officers or other immigration officials and armed security guards.

2. Create Safe Schools through Positive Safety and Discipline Measures
Instead, school staff trained to ensure safe and positive school climates, such as community intervention workers, peacebuilders, behavior interventionists, transformative or restorative justice coordinators, school aides, counselors and other support staff, can and do prevent and address safety concerns and conflicts. These staff monitor school entrances and ensure a welcoming environment, respond to the root causes of conflict and disruptive behaviors, prevent and intervene to stop intergroup and interethnic tension, and address students’ needs.

3. Restrict the Role of Law Enforcement that are Called in to Schools

On those rare occasions when it is appropriate for law enforcement to enter a school building, there should be agreements with police departments that limit the cases when law enforcement can be called in to a school, with particular safeguards in place to ensure students’ rights to education and dignity are protected, in addition to their constitutional rights to counsel and due process.

The Solutions Not Suspensions team is looking to bring visibility and credibility to these recommendations. If you have any suggestions or want to get involved, contact as at Campaign@empoweryouthnc.org.

Post-HKonJ Youth Power Assembly + What’s New

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Happy Black History Month!

First off, we’re hosting a Post-HKonJ Youth Power Assembly with IgniteNC! Open for all young people wanting to build a collective platform powered by the fight for liberation for all. We’re up against a lot under a new presidency so we’ll be building our toolkits with skills and strategies crucial to maintaining our momentum.

There were a lot of amazing ideas, connections, and collaborations made there last year. Let’s continue, and envision this year with youth organizers from all across NC!

Pizza provided.

11am to 4pm at Shaw University, Raleigh, NC. Room TBA.

    YOI In January

Beyond organizing the Assembly, over the past month YOI has been working to support the youth of Wake County with our Press Conference with EJA regarding the police officer assault on a black student at Rolesville High. We (along with many of you!) contacted various officials about the matter on Twitter. Check out the response: #CounselorsNotCops.

Towards the end of the month, we spoke at Center for School Improvement’s Leadership Institute to discuss the importance of restorative justice practices in schools. We will be continuing this work with a workshop on the #Rolesville High incident. More information soon! Keep on the lookout.


January was also the month we settled into our new office! We’re very lucky to share this space with many other radical community organizations. We’re enormously grateful for our years at the Hayti Heritage Center and everything we’ve been able to create there! Contact Anthony at anthony@empoweryouthnc.org if you’d like to stop by our new location.


Thank you to everyone who showed up in January amongst an onslaught of new attacks against Muslim immigrants and refugees, Black and Brown youth, women, and LGBTQ folks, and many intersections thereof. We’re grateful to have you fighting alongside us.

    More Upcoming Events

February 5th, 2017. Speak Out In Solidarity with Immigrant Youth. Come out to iNSIDE oUT’s Youth March for #JessieHernadez, a Latina youth murdered by police and whose killer was not indicted. 4:30pm at the LGBT Center of Durham. Find more information here.

February 5th, 2017. The Black Girls and Women Matter Town Hall Planning Committee will host a Town Hall in order to elevate the voices and experiences of black girls and women in Greensboro. 12pm at James B. Dudley High School. Find more information here.

Sundays in February. Queer Adult Aerials & Acro Class. Queer adults can support queer & trans youth by coming out to Queer Youth Circus’s adult beginner classes. Drop-in any day and you’ll learn at your own pace beginner partner acrobatics or moves on the trapeze, aerial silks, and lyra. Acro at 11am or Aerials 12pm at Triangle Circus Arts. Find more information here.

2016 Reflections

Dear Community,

We made it through another year together. Even though organizing in North Carolina in 2016 was a balancing act, youth activists were an ever-present, growing force. We were unified in our fight when we learned HB2 was passed during a special session of the General Assembly, on the anniversary of Blake Brockington’s death. Youth came from every corner of the state when Keith Lamont Scott was killed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, and stayed even in the face of horrific police brutality.

In 2016, we launched the campaign to Get Cops Out of Schools in Durham and Wake County. We’re proud to have trained youth activists during our 4th Annual Teen Convening, Pre-HKonJ Youth Power Convening, and 7th Annual Freedom School. This year our youth fought against forced deportation and their right to education; cultural assimilation and the right to wear headwraps in school; transphobic policies and the right to access safe, gender-neutral school restrooms. We’re honored to to support such resistance.

The continued brilliance and bravery of youth wouldn’t be the same without the support of teachers, parents, and mentors. We’re so grateful for the adults who have always affirmed, celebrated, and uplifted our youth leaders. Similarly, YOI’s work couldn’t exist without our tireless volunteers, staff, and community partners. Thank you so much for all your support throughout the years. None of this would be possible without it. Last year, our small staff grew to accommodate new visions, new plans. We are beyond thrilled to congratulate Loan for their new role as director, as well as welcome Santos, Anthony, and Babette onto staff.

2017 is finally here. In the new year, YOI will host a high school fellowship program to support student activism on campuses. We will continue our fight against SROs (cops) in schools and for liberation for Black and Brown, LGBTQ, poor, and immigrant students. In the wake of fears and anxiety about the future, we all need reminders that we have the power to shape our own narratives. We have the support and resilience of our community and the strength and tactics of those who came before us. With our collective people power, we will speak up, stand up, and fight back.

2016 Teen Convening

2016 Teen Convening

2016 Raleigh Freedom School

2016 Raleigh Freedom School

2016 DSC Congressional Hearing

2016 DSC Congressional Hearing

Ella Baker Gala 2016!

2016 Gala Honorees

Thank you to everyone who came out for our end-of-the-year hurrah! We had an amazing time celebrating youth and adults allies, cultivating intergenerational conversations, and reflecting on another busy year.

We honored Assata, a Freedom School alum, who protested with other students for the right to wear head wraps in Durham County Schools.

As well as Holly Hardin, an educator in Durham who fought this year along many other educators to stop the deportations of undocumented students, like Wildin Acosta.

Thank you so much for your dedication and resilience! There’s many, many other youth organizers and allies who shaped this past year. For everyone: thank you. We are all needed as we march into the new year.

This night wouldn’t have been possible without so many staff members (past and present), volunteers, and supporters. Thank you to everyone who donated to make another year of wins possible!

group at Gala linking arms

Save the Date! 4th Annual Ella Baker Gala


Participants at the 2016 Building Bridges Teen Convening


As we near the end of the year we know have a lot of work ahead but one thing is for sure, we will not run, we will not hide. We will stay and fight! But first, we want to take a moment to celebrate youth activists, honor adult allies, and commemorate a year of hard work and community resilience.
Join the Youth Organizing Institute for our 4th Annual Ella Baker Gala fun, food, and dancing as we reflect on a year of organizing and rejuvenate ourselves for the battles ahead.
The Ella Baker Gala is part of our year-end grassroots fundraising to support year-round work to dismantle the school to prison pipeline. Will you fight with us? Whether it’s $20 or $100, we need your support for transformative youth organizing in 2017.
By making a contribution to the Ella Baker Gala, you are supporting the work of youth organizers to work for racial, social, and gender justice in our schools and communities.
You can make a contribution by:
Doors open at 6:30, sliding scale $1-$100 (suggested donation $20), no one turned away for lack of funds.

YOI and partners at the Wake County Public Schools Board Meeting during the National Week of Action Against School Push Out


Please RSVP if your family will use our free, onsite childcare! Share how many children you will drop off and how old they are. This will help us better prepare! We will be serving dinner, and if your little ones are picky eaters, please bring any food for them to eat. For toddlers and younger, please bring their drinking cup and a comfort toy!
YOI seeks to create inclusive spaces in all our programming, and so we will be providing both English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English interpretation during the Gala. Anyone who is a monolingual speaker of either English or Spanish will be offered a headset, and our interpreter will interpret in both languages!
Questions? Contact us on Facebook or send questions regarding table sponsorship and solidarity messages to babette@empoweryouthnc.org. To RSVP for childcare please email anthony@empoweryouthnc.org
Can’t make it? No worries! You can still make a contribution! 🙂

Door Contributions are sliding scale $1 – $100. RSVP at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1007157786009263/

Al finalizar el año, sabemos que tenemos mucho trabajo por delante, pero una cosa está clara, no vamos a salir corriendo, no nos vamos a esconder. ¡Nos quedamos y luchamos! Pero primero, tenemos que tomar un momento para celebrar a los activistas jóvenes, honrar a lxs aliadxs adultos, y conmemorar un año de trabajo duro y resistencia comunitaria.

Acompaña al Youth Organizing Institute para nuestra 4ta gala anual Ella Baker. Habrá diversión, comida, y baile mientras reflexionamos sobre un año de organización comunitaria y nos rejuvenecemos para las batallas que tenemos enfrente.

La gala Ella Baker es parte de nuestra campaña de fin de año de recaudación de fondos para apoyar el trabajo durante todo el año en desmantelar el flujo de la escuela a la prisión. ¿Lucharás con nosotros? Ya sea $20 o $100, necesitamos tu apoyo para organización juvenil transformativa en el 2017.

Al hacer una contribución a la gala Ella Baker, estás apoyando el trabajo de organizadores juveniles en su trabajo por la justicia racial, social y de género en nuestras escuelas y comunidades.

Tu puedes hacer una contribución de una de las maneras siguientes:
>>Ofreciendo un anuncio o mensaje solidario o mensaje, precios desde $50
>>Patrocinando una mesa, precios desde $100 
>>Donando por medio del crowfunder (financiamiento colectivo) general de fin de año: Stay and Fight! (¡Quédate y Lucha!)

Las puertas abren a las 6:30pm, escala móvil de $1-$100 (donación sugerida de $20), y a nadie se le niega la entrada por falta de fondos.

¡Por favor confirma tu asistencia si tu familia usará nuestro cuidado de niños gratis en el lugar del evento! Dinos cuántos niños estarás dejando con nosotros y qué edades tienen. ¡Esto nos ayudará a prepararnos mejor! Estaremos sirviendo cena, pero por favor trae comida para tus pequeños si ellos son muy selectivos con la comida. Para los niños muy pequeños o bebés, por favor trae su taza para beber y un juguete preferido.

YOI busca crear espacios inclusivos en toda nuestra programación, y vamos a proveer interpretación de inglés a español y español a inglés durante la gala. ¡Cualquier persona que es monolingüe en inglés o español podrá usar auriculares, y nuestro intérprete interpretará en ambos idiomas!

¿Preguntas? Contáctanos en Facebook o envíanos preguntas sobre contribuciones al correo electrónico del evento babette@empoweryouthnc.org. Para preguntas sobre cuido de niños, por favor escríbele a anthony@empoweryouthnc.org

¿No puedes asistir? ¡No te preocupes! ¡Igual, puedes hacer una contribución! 🙂

Keep Our Schools Safe: Support Anthony Perry

The Youth Organizing Institute is sharing the following petition on behalf of Melissa Reynolds and her son, Anthony Perry — a Black 5th grader at Conn Elementary School in Raleigh, NC who was violently dragged out of his classroom. 

Sign now: Petition to Wake County Public School System’s School Board Members

October 20, 2016

    This is a letter to our friends, family, and community to ask for your support.

    My name is Melissa Reynolds. My son, Anthony, told me that on October 5, at Conn Elementary in Raleigh, NC, a White 5th grade teacher got so angry after arguing with him that she pulled a chair out from under him, he hit his head and neck when he fell out of the chair, and then she dragged him by one wrist across the classroom floor and out the door. Anthony is biracial boy who is perceived as Black.

    Anthony is traumatized. He has signs of PTSD because of this incident and other serious challenges in his life right now. He has slept in my bed every night since she did this to him. Anthony was left in the teacher’s classroom for two and a half school days after the incident. I insisted that Anthony be placed in another teacher’s classroom while human resources at Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) continues the investigation, but as of October 20, I have received nothing in writing and the teacher remains in the same building with my son. I am scared for all the children.

    The school did not even call me until the day after this was reported to the school by my friend, Bridgette Burge, because even though her daughter was scared and upset, she was brave enough to tell her mom what she saw. Human resources is telling me that the investigation is challenging because, at first, Anthony did not tell school leadership what happened when he was questioned, and he didn’t say that he was hurt. Anthony said he did tell the principal that the teacher dragged him but he didn’t say anything else because he said he was afraid that he was in trouble. Anthony did tell them more details about what happened when he was questioned two other times, once when I was with him in the room. The HR person also told me that Anthony made the investigation problematic because he asked other kids to tell their parents what happened, he continued to talk about it, and by he asked his classmates to tell what they saw. I want justice for my son and I don’t want a teacher to ever do this to another child.

    My name is Bridgette Burge. My daughter, Ella June, is Anthony’s friend. She was sitting beside him when the teacher did this. She was scared, upset, and afraid of retribution from the teacher because she told me what happened. Ella June said Anthony was crying during recess the afternoon this happened and other times for the rest of that week.

    Melissa and I have repeatedly told the school’s principal that the teacher should, at the very least, be placed on leave during the investigation, and we insisted that our children be moved to another teacher’s classroom. We also asked that every parent of students who witnessed this be informed by the school. Some parents tried to reach others who have yet to be notified, but were told to back off and let HR handle the process.

    This is not just about Anthony. Out of all WCPSS elementary schools, Conn gave out the sixth highest number of short-term suspensions in 2014-15. What is worse, Black students with disabilities were 39% of those suspended even though they are only 8% of the school’s student body.[i]

    How different would this situation be if the child had been White? And what if the teacher was Black and the child was White? What would you do if this was happening to your child?

    Our children, and all children, have the right to be treated with dignity by their teachers. They have the right to be free from harm and to attend safe schools. The teacher has the right to due process, and we respect and support that. In the meantime, please sign this letter if you support the requests below. We will send it to the school’s principal and the school board.

Or if you prefer, please share your thoughts with the superintendent, Dr. James Merrill and school board members.

Thank you for helping us try to get justice for Anthony, to heal from this, and to make changes so our children are never harmed by a teacher again.

[i] Advocates for Children’s Services of Legal Aid of NC factsheet, “Conn Elementary School Discipline Fact Sheet 2014-15 School Year”

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who ask that:

  1. The WCPSS school system pay for Anthony’s professional counseling and therapy.

  2. WCPSS inform the parents and guardians of students that witnessed of this incident.

  3. The students who were upset by what they saw receive individual counseling if they need it, and the opportunity to process this in a professionally facilitated group with their peers and parents and guardians if they choose to.

  4. The school engage in racial equity training to reduce the disproportionate institutional harm being done to students of color and those with disabilities.

  5. The school improve the training for teachers in regard to student safety and respect, practice restorative justice processes, and implement trauma-informed school approaches, such as the Compassionate School Model.

Sign now: Petition to Wake County Public School System’s School Board Members

No More Strange Fruit! Call to Action from Charlotte Uprising

On September 20th, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police killed Keith Lamont Scott, a disabled Black father who deserved to live. People have taken to the streets of Charlotte every day and every night to demand an end to the war on Black lives and Black communities. People on the ground continue to be met with police repression from the police murder of Justin Carr in the protests to the use of tear gas in crowds to the issuing of warrants for the arrests of people who have livestreamed from the frontlines.

Led by Black, queer & trans organizers & accomplices, the Charlotte Uprising has tirelessly inspired people to resist state violence and dream of new possibilities beyond the current conditions we live in. Freedom fighters in Charlotte are now calling on freedom fighters everywhere to host coordinated actions on Tuesday, October 4, which will mark two weeks since Keith’s murder.

Eleven days into the Uprising and Charlotte is still bubbling with righteous rage and energy. We see this rage and energy connecting cities across the country–from Tulsa, OK to San Diego, CA where communities are lifting up the names of Terrence Crutcher and Alfred Olango, both Black men killed by police. Black people are being criminalized, killed, and abused by the police state everywhere. We raise Charlotte’s struggle and demands alongside those of Black communities across the country fighting against the structure whose murderous shootings are what we deem modern day lynchings. Let our actions show solidarity with the resistance in Charlotte, as well as demanding an end to the anti-Black, classist, gender-policing system of police and prisons that holds so much power over our lives everywhere.

While recent uprisings have immediately followed the murders of Black men, it must not be lost on us that our resistance is in response to the same system that is killing Black women and femmes via police violence, criminalization of Black motherhood & self-defense, and the perpetuation of sexual violence. We must say the names of Korryn Gaines, Sandra Bland, Mya Hall, and the countless Black women and femmes whose deaths must invoke outrage and responsibility.

For folks in North Carolina, come to Charlotte! For folks elsewhere, organize an action–whether it be a rally, march, street theater performance, or turn up–to pull out your communities in solidarity with Charlotte, with Tulsa, with San Diego, with every city where Black folks are rising up and demanding strange fruit no more!

Follow this event page for specific details for Charlotte and actions in other cities. Submit information about your city’s action by sending an email to charlituprising@gmail.com.

Baltimore: https://www.facebook.com/events/330219737369675/
Chicago: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804014253179223/
Detroit: https://www.facebook.com/events/918263058317823/
NYC: https://www.facebook.com/events/565163050352066/
Buffalo, NY: https://www.facebook.com/events/1230376930366031/
Columbia University (NYC): https://www.facebook.com/events/629215307260003/?notif_t=plan_user_invited&notif_id=1475558330281575
Washington, DC: https://www.facebook.com/events/1659210907741378/
Philadelphia, PA: https://www.facebook.com/events/1287459501266760/
Roanoke, VA: https://www.facebook.com/events/1791596314454706/
Silverdale, WA: https://www.facebook.com/events/323702664650647/
Iowa City, Iowa: https://www.facebook.com/events/515895891953266/

Black Lives Matter! Durham Rally Against Police Terror

Black Lives Matter! Durham Rally Against Police Terror

Almost 600 people have been killed by the police in the United States just since the beginning of this year. This month we witness the senseless, horrific killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, and Alva Braziel in Houston. In our own state, earlier this year police killed Akiel Denkins in Raleigh, Deriante Miller in Kinston, and Jai “Jerry” Williams in Asheville less than two weeks ago.

We have seen the murder of Black people at the hands of police over, and over, and over. Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Mya Hall, Mike Brown, Rekia Boyd, John Crawford. It is time for us to unapologetically speak this truth: Cops and prisons do not keep us safe. Police regularlyharass and kill Black and Brown people with little to no repercussions or arrest them so prisons and jails can make massive profits.

We say enough is enough.

Across the country community members are dreaming and implementing community based solutions that do not include police or prisons. We demand a Durham Beyond Policing.

We say NO to a new $71 million police palace scheduled to be built in Durham this year

We say NO to an annual police budget of nearly $60 million when the Durham police department has demonstrated to be racist and violent.

We say NO to any local complicity or cooperation with ICE: ripping immigrant families apart and violently detaining and deporting children.

We demand meaningful investment in restorative justice programs, and community needs that actually keep people safe like jobs, healthcare, and housing.

We demand the City Council disarm, defund, and disempower the police, and instead fund Black futures!

From Baton Rouge to Oakland, people are mobilizing across the country. It is necessary that we stand together in struggle against the state-sanctioned murder of Black people as we organize our communities.