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Advancement Project Decries Call for More School Police in Response to Santa Fe High School Shooting

WASHINGTON – On Friday, May 19, a school shooting claimed the lives of 10 people and injured at least 10 others at a Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. The shooter, seventeen-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, walked on campus and opened fired killing eight students and two teachers. As state policymakers like Governor Greg Abbott begin to coordinate community roundtables on preventive school security measures, Advancement Project’s national office released the following statement:

“It is an absolute tragedy that our country is faced with yet another senseless act of gun violence targeting a school campus,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project’s national office. “Our deepest sympathies are with the students, families and community members of Santa Fe, Texas as they mourn the loss of the 10 people, mostly students, who were taken away as a result of the shooting.”

“Unfortunately, history has demonstrated that after a tragic school shooting like the one at Santa Fe High School, school administrators and government officials react by hastily increasing police presence in schools, despite no evidence that they make schools safer,” she continued. “Our hope is that the community of Santa Fe, Texas will work together as a collective of students, parents, school staff, and local policymakers to implement proactive solutions to school safety that reach students before they turn to violence. Research supports the use of mental health professionals like counselors, restorative justice programs, and other alternatives to police that provide the supportive environment students need to reduce and prevent violence.”

“We also must understand and highlight the privilege Dimitrios Pagourtzis enjoys as a white male in the media coverage of the shooting – a privilege that is not extended to students of color. Media has been reluctant to criminalize Pagourtzis, labeling him a ‘suspect’ despite his admittance of intentionally targeting students and school staff, and being charged with capital murder. Coverage has also characterized him as a “quiet, bright, and sweet boy,” echoing positive testimonies from his family and teachers. We must make sure that all students, regardless of their race and background, are fairly covered in the media when tragedies befall our schools.”

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