Policing

Community groups repeat call to remove cops from schools

“Community investment and involvement is a long term preventative practice that supports the emotional, social, and mental needs of students. Cops in our schools traumatize and trigger our youth in Providence, who are primarily Black and brown- cops do not belong in our school hallways. What our schools need are more supportive adults, without the gun, without the uniform. Adults we can depend on to have the right intentions of restoring community when harm arises.”
Photo for Community groups repeat call to remove cops from schools

Published on February 15, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

For the second time in recent days a group of organizations and people are imploring Governor Daniel McKee to remove School Resource Officers (SROs) from all Providence Schools. Uprise RI published the first letter from the PASS Coalition (Providence Alliance for Student Safety) here. That letter was addressed to Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angélica Infante-Green and the Governor was one of many public officials included in that communication. A second letter, from a different group of organizations, was sent to the Governor on Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the letter:

We Would LOVE for You to Remove Cops from Schools.

To Governor McKee:

Not only would we LOVE for You to Remove Cops from Schools, we need you to.  As community organizations, we find it of utmost importance to invest in long term, preventative solutions and restorative practices in terms of student wellness. This requires us to divest from short term punitive fixes, such as keeping police as an embedded part of our schools and response to student safety.  We call on YOU to not only listen and lend an ear to our young people of Providence but also HEAR their ask and TAKE ACTION.

Community investment and involvement is a long term preventative practice that supports the emotional, social, and mental needs of students. Cops in our schools traumatize and trigger our youth in Providence, who are primarily Black and brown- cops do not belong in our school hallways. What our schools need are more supportive adults, without the gun, without the uniform. Adults we can depend on to have the right intentions of restoring community when harm arises.

  •  We need school staff trained in trauma-informed and anti-racist practices for the purpose of positively supporting students with behavioral needs.
  • Provide evidence-based interventions such as counseling and the teaching of social-emotional skills to students with behavioral issues.
  • We need to build safer schools by reevaluating our policies and procedures such as lockdown, disciplinary and school suspension procedures.

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

Invest in mental health,

 and get SRO’s out too!

With all of our hearts, 

  • Providence Student Union
  • Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE)
  • The R.I. Center for Justice
  • Providence ¡CityArts for Youth! 
  • Providence DSA’s Defund the Police, Reimagine Safety, Invest in Providence (DRI) Working Group
  • Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR) 
  • FANG Collective
  • New Urban Arts
  • Black Lives Matter RI PAC
  • The Manton Avenue Project
  • Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)
  • Rhode Island Political Cooperative
  • Party for Socialism and Liberation RI
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice RI
  • Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
  • Center for Youth & Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE)
  • Young Voices
  • RIOT RI
  • Students for Educational Equity (SEE)
  • DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality)
  • Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment (BRYTE)
  • Rhode Island Working Families Party (WFP)
  • Formerly Incarcerated Union of Rhode Island
  • Youth in Action (YIA)

Politicians added their voices to the letter:

State Senator Sam Bell (District 5, RI Rank #1), a proponent of getting SROs out of schools, says “Ever since I saw a cop knee a fellow student in her crotch repeatedly in middle school, I’ve felt we shouldn’t have SROs in our schools.”

State Senator Tiara Mack (District 6, RI Rank #2) shares, “Data has consistently shown that SROs do not improve school safety. They have been shown to increase suspensions, expulsions, and lead to higher rates of arrest in students of color for minor offenses like disrupting class. The young people in our state need and want more mental health supports in schools. We should be listening. Our students deserve to feel safe in schools, and SROs do not make our students or their families feel more safe.”

State Representative David Morales (District 7, RI Rank #1) adds, “”For years, our Providence youth have been forced to live in constant fear of being criminalized by police officers who roam their school and lack the understanding of restorative justice when addressing behavior issues. Student-led organization after student-led organization have clearly communicated to our state and local government that the presence of school resource officers does not make students feel safer, in fact they do the opposite! Therefore, it is time we begin to adequately fund mental health resources and remove School Resource Officers from Providence Public Schools. Only then, will we be taking the active steps to close the school-to-prison pipeline and intentionally support the needs of our youth, particularly youth of color.”

Community Organizer and Providence Public School Teacher Enrique Sanchez states, “We must move towards an educational environment where our students do not have to face the threat of policing every day in school.”

Community Organizer and Co-Chair of Providence DSA Kinverly Dicupe says, “We don’t need cops in schools when the arts must be cut because there is not enough funding to go around. This is a question of our priorities and for too long we’ve justified controlling tactics and criminalization as solutions to problems that extend from poverty and a critical underfunding of all public infrastructure.”

Community Organizer and Public Health Researcher Jackie Goldman shares, “I stand in solidarity with the students, staff, and other organizers in their call to invest in mental healthcare in schools and remove SROs. In order to succeed, students and staff need to know that they can engage in learning without fear of the carceral state. SROs introduce harm into school systems, especially for Black and Brown students.”

Candidate for Governor Matt Brown and Candidate for Lt. Governor and State Senator Cynthia Mendes gave the following statement, “We wholeheartedly support the students organizing with PSU and the demands of their Counselors Not Cops campaign. For years now, PSU students have been crying out for counselors and resources instead of SROs in their schools. The violence they experience cannot be ignored and nor can their demands any longer.”

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