Kick Out Cops, Not Kids: Youth Organizing Institute Opposes Placement of Police Officers in 5 DPS Middle Schools
Durham Public Schools’ decision to place police officers (as “school resource officers”) in 5 middle schools is irresponsible to the young people and the communities our education system is meant to serve. We know the role that police play in our schools: to perpetuate the criminalization of youth of color, queer youth, undocumented youth, disabled youth, and more.
There is little evidence that having police officers in schools improves student safety or the safety of the school environment. These officers function within and uphold a “school-to-prison-pipeline” which punishes students for conflicts that could be resolved with transformative and restorative tools; paints Black and Brown youth as inherently defiant and less than human; and creates a school environment where youth cannot learn and be supported to reach their fullest potential.
We call on the Durham Public Schools System to take the side of its young people who are learning in an increasingly violently racist and oppressive world. Cops in our schools is not the answer when they routinely escalate conflicts and treat youth as subjects who need to be neutralized and forced to comply to intimidation and scare tactics.
In the past several months we have witnessed the harm that police officers cause in our school environments. On January 3rd, 2017, a Rolesville High School (Wake County) student Jasmine Darwin was picked up and slammed to the ground by School Resource Officer Ruben De Los Santos while attempting to break up a fight. She was diagnosed with a concussion later that day. De Los Santos was placed on administrative leave. A former SRO from Hillside High School (Durham County) is currently facing charges for sexual misconduct and exploitation of a minor. This SRO began targeting this student in middle school.
These are only the stories we know of but we can gather from the racist role that police officers play in the broader society that there are hundreds more, if not thousands, of youth who have been targeted and criminalized by police officers in their schools.
Since 2010, the Youth Organizing Institute has supported high school students in fighting to end racism and re-segregation, to dismantle the school to prison pipeline and to make schools safer for LGBTQ youth.
We defend and are in solidarity with all young people who fight for schools where police officers are not the arbitrators of conflict, harm, and justice; who fight for schools where youth are able to be their full selves, are supported by their educators, school counselors, and the broader community; who fight for schools where issues of white supremacy, homophobia and transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, islamophobia, and more can be addressed on the basis of shared humanity, dignity, and a vision for a liberated world for young people and all people.
Join us and others at the Durham City Council work session this Thursday, July 27 to share your thoughts on DPS’s recent decision to place police officers as SROs in 5 middle schools this year.
1 p.m. in the Council’s Committee Room, 2nd floor City Hall