Education

After student assaulted by Student Resource Officer, youth-led community groups call for an end to police in schools

“Countless other students have also been brutalized by SROs. We know that police in schools only bring violence and will never bring safety to Rhode Island’s youth. We demand that all SROs are removed from all schools immediately.”
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Published on March 2, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Community members and groups gathered outside the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Wednesday to support Jay-Juan, a 16-year old Mt. Pleasant High School student who was brutally arrested and is charged with multiple criminal offenses. The people gathered were also demanding “an end to the violence that School Resource Officers (SROs) have committed against students in Providence Schools.” Members of PrYSM and other youth-led groups stood with Jay-Juan and his family as he entered court house.

Jay-Juan was violently arrested on February 1. In response, 21 organizations released a letter they collectively sent to Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angélica Infante-Green demanding justice for Jay-Juan and the immediate removal of SROs from all schools. Commissioner Infante-Greene and Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee instead shocked many by doubling down on their support of SROs.

“Jay-Juan is a child who is a victim of a violent assault on him at school by a grown man,” said Daniel Chhum from PrYSM (Providence Youth Student Movement), a youth organization that supports community members that have been impacted by police violence. “Instead of receiving support after he was beaten up, Jay-Juan was charged with crimes. While there is no way to undo the harm that Jay-Juan experienced, all of the charges need to be dropped against Jay-Juan immediately. Video footage shows Jay-Juan, the student, being body slammed, choked, and restrained by Officer Leonel Pichs. Jay-Juan was held in custody for a total of 20 hours, and has been held under house arrest since then.”

“What happened to Jay-Juan is emblematic of the reasons why we need Governor McKee, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, and other government officials to remove all police out of schools immediately,” said Symone Burrell from Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE). “Countless other students have also been brutalized by SROs. We know that police in schools only bring violence and will never bring safety to Rhode Island’s youth. We demand that all SROs are removed from all schools immediately.”

“We were horrified to see the videos of Governor McKee and Commissioner Infante Green stating their support for SROs in schools in response to Jay-Juan’s arrest,” said Suonriaksmay from PrYSM. “We condemn Governor McKee and Commissioner Infante Green for their support of violence against youth. We also condemn Mount Pleasant High School’s administration – and especially Principal David Conrady – for lying publicly about what happened to Jay-Juan to protect Officer Pichs after he assaulted Jay-Juan, instead of protecting Jay-Juan and other Mount Pleasant students. We know that the only way to protect Mount Pleasant’s students – and all Rhode Island students – is to remove SROs from all schools immediately.”

You can see the response of Governor McKee and Commissioner Infante-Greene to calls for the removal of SROs here:

“Youth organizations from all over the state have powerfully spoken out against the violence that SROs cause in schools,” said supporters in a press statement. “Jay-Juan’s is just one of many tragedies that have occurred as a result of School Resource Officers being in schools. We are here to demand justice for them all.”

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