STATEMENT: Osceola Sheriff’s deputy viciously assaults student, underscoring urgency in call for #PoliceFreeSchools
After a year of #PoliceFreeSchools wins in cities nationwide, Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice
respond to recent #AssaultAtLiberty
WASHINGTON, DC - On January 26, 2021 videos documenting the assault of a student by an Osceola Sheriff’s deputy began to spread across social media. The student, a girl who attends Liberty High School, was slammed to the ground by the deputy, an adult male twice her size, who has since been confirmed by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to be employed by the agency as a school resource officer (SRO) at the high school.
According to local reports, after the student was slammed to the ground by the deputy she appeared to lose consciousness.
Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice are long standing partners with thousands of youth organizers who are pushing local governments to enforce #PoliceFreeSchools. The #AssaultAtLiberty can be added to a long list of infuriating attacks on youth that bring to light the continued maltreatment of Black and Brown people by this country’s police-state and the ways that our Black and Brown youth are criminalized in their places of learning.
“The same police who assault, harass, and kill Black and Brown people in the streets are now being employed by schools and assaulting our young people in their classrooms and on their campuses,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project National Office. “In the midst of COVID, police in schools have doubly deadly consequences. The #AssaultAtLiberty is a call to action. Despite progress in cities like Minneapolis, Denver, and Oakland in 2020, there is still much work to be done and accountability to be taken.”
Our call for #PoliceFreeSchools is urgent. The time for #PoliceFreeSchools is now. Here are our demands following the #AssaultAtLiberty:
- Repeal Florida State Law requiring that at least one police officer be present in every school.
- Fire the Osceola Sheriff's deputy involved in this assault and guarantee that he will not work as a school resource officer elsewhere in the future. Any investigation into this incident should be led by a community taskforce, not law enforcement or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
- Ensure that no suspensions are made and no charges are filed against any of the students involved in this incident, including those who recorded and shared video on social media.
- Ensure that impacted students have continued access to education, including but not limited to, a right return to Liberty High School (if desired), and that none of the involved students are involuntarily transferred, but welcomed back to school.
- Provide emotional, social, and mental health support and resources to the students involved, including those who witnessed this assault, and their families.
- Implement school wide restorative justice at Liberty High School in order to create a nurturing school climate.
- Require the protection and safety of Black and all oppressed youth who organize to protest against state violence and to protect themselves from all forms of violence.
Jonathan Stith, National Director of Alliance for Educational Justice added, “The #AssaultAtLiberty demonstrates that school districts are complicit and willingly fail to protect Black and Brown students from police violence. The incoming Secretary of Education needs to protect BIPOC and other impacted students from the school to prison pipeline and that begins with removing police from schools.”
“Time and time again we see the harm of school police being imposed on students, especially students of color. This attack is one of the many we’ve seen, but hopefully not one of the countless attacks that have gone unaccounted for,” said Keno D. Walker of Power U Center for Social Change. “We know that school districts in Florida continue to add funding toward this false sense of school safety by pushing the narrative that SROs play roles such as counselors, mentors, and supports for students on top of creating a safe and healthy school environment. Our lived experiences as students of color encountering SROs isn’t helpful, as you can see from the attack on the young lady at Liberty High School. We are choked, slammed, arrested, Baker Acted, and seen as nuisances rather than students.”
A society that relies on policing and assaulting youth does not value human life, and it is those who are marginalized that experience this devaluing most. To learn more about our campaign for #PoliceFreeSchools and our call for #FreeAndSafe communities, visit:
- We Came to Learn: A Call to Action for Police-Free Schools
- Our #AssaultAt Map charting the countless incidents of students being assaulted by school police in their places of learning
- Webinar on the Power of Sheriffs in Florida and how sheriffs impact the school-to-prison pipeline
- Advancement Project National Office: #FreeAndSafe Campaign
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. Visit www.advancementproject.org
Alliance for Educational Justice is a national alliance of Black and oppressed youth leading a movement to end the war on youth in our schools and waging struggle for education as liberation. #PoliceFreeSchools | #EndWarOnYouth www.facebook.com/pg/4EdJustice
Power U Center for Social Change is organizing and developing the leadership of Black and Brown youth and Black women in South Florida so that they may help lead the struggle to liberate all oppressed people. www.poweru.org/