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Florida’s Policymakers Move to Arm Teachers Places Students of Color at Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2018

CONTACT
Nailah Summers
(305) 393-2521, nailah@dreamdefenders.org

Zerline Hughes
(202) 487-0967, zhughes@advancementproject.org

 

WASHINGTONIn the wake of Parkland’s fatal school shooting last month, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott today signed SB7026, a bill that promises to arm teachers, coaches, nurses and other school faculty. Advancement Project’s national office, along with our Florida partners Power U Center for Social Change and Dream Defenders were collecting signatures to deliver to the governor asking for him to veto this legislation in an effort to keep more guns out of schools, but Florida policymakers moved hastily on legislation they should have otherwise taken their time on.

Advancement Project’s national office and its Florida-based partners released the following statement:

“The legislation that passed today has deadly implications for Black and Brown students in Florida,” said Rachel Gilmer, co-director of Dream Defenders. “The bill makes it so that we will end up seeing an unprecedented number of guns entering into our schools. These will undoubtedly be turned on Black and Brown youth who will continue to be targeted by police, and now, the school staff that should be supporting them.”

“If the concern is really about keeping students safe, then we should be considering what keeps all of our students safe,” Gilmer continued. “A real solution would’ve been one that considers the experiences of Parkland students as well as students of color who have lived through gun violence in their community and have simultaneously been exposed to violence by police. The passing of this bill is not a win for Florida students of color.”

“We know that this bill will criminalize young people, particularly black and brown youth in South Florida,” said James Lopez, executive director of Power U Center for Social Change. “We will be looking to the school board and superintendent Carvalho to oppose any push for more guns in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.”
“Gov. Rick Scott had an opportunity to be a responsible leader on addressing school violence. He failed,” said Andrea Mercado, Executive Director of New Florida Majority. “In allowing more personnel to be armed in schools, Gov. Scott and the legislators that made this bill possible, just add to existing fears and pave the way for potential abuse and violence. Teachers and students need more funds, not more guns in schools. They need textbooks, counselors and resources that don’t come at the expense of housing, climate resilience and other neighborhood needs.”
“Safety isn’t secured by law enforcement alone, but by creating an environment where all community residents, young and old, can learn and reach their full potential without the threat of force,” said Garcia. “Flowers don’t bloom in the barrel of a gun. Neither will our children.”

“The governor said he wouldn’t arm teachers but he gave in to the NRA,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project’s national office. “This bill may as well equate to signing a school-to-prison pipeline warrant for Florida’s students of color. Florida’s students – particularly its youth of color – are now at more risk than ever before. This promise of arming teachers, coaches, counselors, in addition to increasing school police presence throughout the Florida is an egregious mistake.”

“More guns means more people hurt; more cops means more arrests of students,” Browne Dianis continued. “Further, this misguided reaction to the Parkland tragedy shifts critical resources away from the classroom and supporting students in need of help. It’s ironic that states across the country can always find hundreds of millions of dollars for police, but can never find any additional funding to improve educational opportunities.”

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Dream Defenders is an organization of young people committed to building a powerful, rooted, and local movement for freedom and liberation in Florida. Founded in 2012 after the murder of Trayvon Martin, they organize to end the mass incarceration tearing Florida communities apart and replace it with alternatives that respect the humanity and dignity of all people. Their vision is a state that puts the needs of its people and its land above corporations and the wealthy. They have chapters in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, St. Petersburg and Gainesville, FL. To learn more visit www.dreamdefenders.org.

Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high-quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

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