Advancement Project National Office, Alliance for Educational Justice Unveil Digital Resource to Track Police Violence Against Black, Brown Students
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice launched a powerful new website with resources and features to propel their fight for #PoliceFreeSchools.
Following the release of the organizations’ co-authored We Came to Learn: A Call to Action for Police-Free Schools report, the two organizations unveiled the We Came to Learn microsite at the height of back to school season, a time known for increased police violence against students in their learning environments. The launch event, which included political education around the history of school policing, an immersive digital experience that shed light on the experiences of youth of color in their places of learning, and a panel featuring speakers from organizations committed to removing police from schools, helped to set the stage for and provide context around a new, impactful #AssaultAt map.
The term “#AssaultAt” came out of the #AssaultAtSpringValley, when Alliance for Educational Justice began labeling instances of police violence against students utilizing hashtags. The #AssaultAt hashtag has since been used with hopes of raising awareness by way of going viral and encouraging students to document these incidents as they happen so that the incidents can be traced and tracked. The We Came to Learn microsite and the #AssaultAt map pick up the campaign for #PoliceFreeSchools where the report left off in order to provide resources and tools to members of the media covering related incidents, young people telling their own stories, educators, advocates and researchers alike.
Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office, remarked, “Research and the experiences of young people of color have taught us that police in schools create a toxic school climate and fuel the school-to-prison pipeline.”
She continued, “Our #AssaultAt map charts known incidents of students being assaulted by school police since 2009. This list and map are ever-growing, but by no means are they exhaustive. This #AssaultAt map reflects numerous assaults captured on video or reported to local or national news outlets. Some even resulted in legal action. It is important to note, however, that there are many other assaults like these taking place regularly that don’t receive the same attention for any number of reasons, including lack of documentation, media bias, and so on. In viewing the #AssaultAt map, it becomes abundantly clear why #PoliceFreeSchools are essential to the well-being of our Black and Brown youth. These assaults are like witnessing the beating of Rodney King over and over again, but this time on Black children.”
While research shows that Black students do not misbehave more than white students, they are disproportionately pushed out of their schools, arrested and funneled into this country’s justice system, fueling and keeping the school-to-prison pipeline alive.
“Although Black students represented only 15 percent of the overall student population during the 2015-2016 school year, they were 31 percent of the students arrested or referred to law enforcement during that time,” noted Jonathan Stith, founding member and National Coordinator for the Alliance for Educational Justice. “This is not surprising, considering that police officers have been found to misperceive Black boys as older and view them as less childlike and less innocent than white boys of the same age suspected of committing the same crimes.”
A recent report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) further supports this and the numbers are worse when looking at Black girls. Research has shown that Black girls are often viewed as less innocent and in need of less support or protection than their white peers. As a result, Black girls are four times more likely to be arrested, three times more likely to be referred to law enforcement, and two times more likely to be physically restrained.
During the panel discussion at the microsite launch, organizers from Brighton Park Neighborhood Council in Chicago, Padres & Jóvenes Unidos in Denver, and the Philadelphia Student Union reflected on the incidents and police violence that led their organizations to fight for #PoliceFreeSchools. The panelists encouraged attendees to submit information to be included into the #AssaultAt map with hopes that further documentation would lead to the national removal of police from schools in order to protect Black and Brown youth.
To view the We Came to Learn microsite, visit: www.wecametolearn.com
For more information on the work that Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice are doing, visit: www.advancementproject.org/wecametolearn.
Advancement Project National Office is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.
Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ) is a new national alliance of youth organizing and intergenerational groups working for educational justice. AEJ aims to bring grassroots groups together to bring about changes in federal educational policy, build a national infrastructure for the education justice sector, and build the capacity of our organizations and our youth leaders to sustain and grow the progressive movement over the long haul.