Racial Justice Organizations Demand Proactive Solutions to School Safety on the 19th Anniversary of Columbine - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Racial Justice Organizations Demand Proactive Solutions to School Safety on the 19th Anniversary of Columbine

WASHINGTON – On April 20, 1999, two students in their senior year entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and opened fired, killing 13 people and injuring 24 others. In the 19 years following the tragic shooting, the nation has mourned the loss of over 140 students and educators in school shootings, including those slain in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida. As students and families across the country host vigils, direct actions and participate in the National School Walkout on April 20, youth of color call on states and school districts to invest in effective, proactive solutions to school safety, rather than additional school police and security. Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, a Denver-based, multi-issue organization working for educational equity, racial justice and immigrant rights and Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization, released the following statement:

“We, like the communities in Colorado, mourn the students and educators that were senselessly killed by gun violence,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project’s national office. “It is critical that schools invest in the safety solutions that uplift students and target mental health supports to troubled youth before they turn to violence. In the aftermath of the Columbine shooting, we’ve seen how policing has disproportionately criminalized youth of color. With over 10,000 police in schools across the nation, we have seen referrals to law enforcement and school-based arrests increase, with youth of color being twice as likely to be arrested than their White peers. These strategies funnel students from school into the juvenile justice system and don’t prevent the loss of life. We must continue to look to successful models like those in Denver that are created through synergistic collaborations of students, their advocates, parents, teachers, and school administrators to ensure our children never again experience the trauma of gun violence in school.”

“As students of color, we have armed officers in our schools and they don’t make us feel safe. Their presence intimidates us and criminalizes us,” said Ilene Orgaz, a youth leader with Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. “School is supposed to be a safe environment, but how can we feel safe in a place that feels like prison? If Denver Public Schools has money to arm teachers and place police in schools, then it has money to provide resources like counselors, better facilities, free after-school programs for high school students and free lunch programs for K-12 students. Growing up, I attended after-school programs and I feel like it shaped who I am as a person. These programs should be accessible for all students, because they help youth grow mentally and physically.”

###

Padres & Jóvenes Unidos has a 25-year history of building the power of predominantly Latino, Chicano and Spanish-speaking parents and youth to create healthy school climates, increase health equity and improve educational and related outcomes in Denver Public Schools and schools statewide.

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.

KEEP READING

‘The Hate U Give’: Another Resource in the Youth Organizing Toolkit

In this heightened moment of political activity, young people are in need of an outlet to voice their concerns and feel empowered to impact what’s going on around them. The film, “The Hate U Give” makes an important point about what many young people of color experience, what they are witnessing and how to be politically engaged by it.

Read More
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke Found Guilty of Second Degree Murder of 17-Year-Old Laquan McDonald

Today, a jury found Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the murder 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. Advancement Project’s national office released the following statement:

Read More
Send future youth organizers to see The Hate U Give!

Can you contribute today to help us host screenings of The Hate U Give for future youth organizers?

Read More
The Justice Project

Reimagining safety at the grassroots.

Read More
6 Things You Need to Know about School Policing

From our new report "We Came to Learn"

Read More
Tools to create #PoliceFreeSchools

We Came to Learn report and action kit

Read More
We Came to Learn: A Call to Action for Police-Free Schools

Safety does not exist when Black & Brown young people are forced to interact with a system of policing that views them as a threat and not as students.

Read More
#TakeAKnee: Supporting the Protests of Professional Athletes

Supporting athletes that advocate for change to our country’s unjust policing practices.

Read More
Advancement Project Statement: The Ouster of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch Who Failed to Charge Officer for Murder of Mike Brown

After a 27-year bout, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch – the prosecutor who failed to charge Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. four years ago this week – was defeated in the St. Louis prosecutorial election. McCulloch has a long history of defending police violence and was responsible for the attack on front line protesters during the Ferguson Uprising following the death of 18-year-old Brown. McCulloch targeted Ferguson protestor Josh Williams, who is enduring an eight-year prison sentence, as well as Brittany Ferrel and Alexis Templeton, who suffered a year-long prosecution. On…

Read More
50 Years After the First Memo Leak of the FBI’s Cointelpro, the Question Stands: Are We Free?

50 years later, the Black Lives Matter movement represents a similar threat to the FBI.

Read More