Oakland School Board Votes To Eliminate Its Police Department
The school board in Oakland, California, voted unanimously on Wednesday to dismantle the school district police department. This made the district the youngest to break ties with law enforcement officials in nationwide anti-racism protests.
At a school board meeting on Wednesday evening, all seven board members voted for the "George Floyd Resolution on the Elimination of the Oakland School Police Department". The resolution needed a simple majority to pass.
The Oakland Unified School District has its own police department with over 120 officers and other staff in the district who care for over 35,000 students, most of whom are black and brown. Nineteen California school districts have their own police force, including in Los Angeles.
Since the end of May, after the police started nationwide protests against racism and police brutality by police, several school systems have cut ties to the police, including in Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed. In San Francisco, across from Oakland, the school board unanimously voted to remove the police from their schools on Tuesday.
However, the campaign to remove the police from Oakland schools started long before the recent protests. Organizers, parents and students have been pushing for police-free schools for years. The Black Organizing Project launched its campaign in 2011 after a police officer from the school in Oakland fatally shot 20-year-old Raheim Brown before a school dance.
"What happens in school policing is related to the same problems we see in policing in our cities," said Jackie Byers, executive director of the Black Organizing Project, on Monday before the school board voted to HuffPost. "There is another approach that many law enforcement agencies take when dealing with black and brown children and even consider them children."
While black students make up about a quarter of OUSD students, they represent nearly three quarters of those arrested, according to a 2018 Black Organizing Project report. The group and other parishioners marched into Oakland on Tuesday to remove the police from schools.
The problem of racist policing in schools is certainly not limited to Oakland. Black children, who represented only 16% of enrolled students nationwide in 2012, were arrested at 31%, according to a 2014 U.S. Department of Education report.
Research has shown that school police officers can tighten the pipeline between school and prison, a phenomenon in which students - often skin-colored students - are forced out of school into criminal justice.
Byers said the dismantling of the OUSD police department is only the first step. Next, activists want the district to invest in more school support staff such as social workers and mental health counselors.
Byers noticed that a police presence "does not make the black communities safer" and added: "Whether you are in your house or walking down the street or approaching you because you think you have done something - this encounter doesn't matter How you behave could lead to your murder. "
In the midst of riots, schools are considering terminating their contracts with the police
The protests against Black Lives Matter are working. Here is the proof.
Coast-to-coast anti-racism protests in the United States
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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