By a unanimous vote on June 24, the school board in Oakland, California, dismantled the school district’s police department, the latest in a string of tie-cutting with law enforcement amid nationwide anti-police brutality protests.
All seven school board members voted in favor of the “George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland School Police Department.” The vote came after the board heard nearly 30 speakers who were all in favor of eliminating the school police force.
“Some spoke about how Black and brown students can feel dehumanized, disrespected, and generally not safe with having police on campus. Others urged the board to set an example for the nation in their act of removing police,” The Mercury News reported.
The Oakland district serves more than 35,000 students, most of whom are Black and brown. Black students account for 26 percent of the student population in the district and 73 percent of student arrests, according to the school board resolution.
A day earlier, the San Francisco school board unanimously voted to remove police from its schools.
The Oakland Unified School District has its own police department. “The annual $2.5 million spent on the 10 sworn officers and police administrators is instead expected to be redirected toward other student support services and restorative justice efforts,” The Mercury News reported.
A new alternative safety plan will be implemented.
There are 19 California school districts that have their own police forces, including in Los Angeles.
The decision in Oakland was resoundingly praised on Twitter.
Your Digital Muse Delphine @MsDelphineX tweeted, “I remember a time when cops were not in schools (At least where I lived. I was still in grade school when Columbine happened, cops were introduced to my school shortly after that.) I am glad students will get to experience cop-free learning in Oakland.”
Azadeh Shahshahani @ashahshahani tweeted, “Kudos to folks in #Oakland for this incredible victory!”
In wake of the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality following the police murder of George Floyd, several other school systems have cut ties with police including in Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
But the push in Oakland started long before George Floyd died. Organizers, parents, and students have been fighting for years for police-free schools. The Black Organizing Project launched its campaign in 2011 after an Oakland school police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Raheim Brown outside a school dance, HuffPo reported.
“What happens in terms of policing in schools is interconnected to the same issues we see in policing in our cities,” Black Organizing Project executive director, Jackie Byers, told HuffPost on Monday ahead of the school board vote. “There is a different approach a lot of law enforcement have in dealing with Black and brown children, and even seeing them as children.”
While Oakland and other cities are moving to defund the police, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot refuses to do so. Too many jobs will be lost and many of those jobs are held by Black and brown people, according to Lightfoot.
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