The Battle for Police Reform
“Satara Strong leads the crowd at Central High School in a chant Monday, quoting Assata Shakur: ‘We have a duty to fight for our freedom. We have a duty to win.’ Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle – Sahan Journal
The movement to scale back police presence is still going strong, and there’s been a huge victory in Saint Paul Public Schools thanks to students. On Tuesday, Saint Paul Public Schools voted to end contract negotiations with the Saint Paul Polic Department, and instead they will look into alternative school safety plans. Saint Paul is the third district in the state to take police officers out of schools, right after Minneapolis and Winona.
¡Dulce victoria! This is an enormous win for Black and brown kids. Police presence in schools has been on the rise for decades, and this has disproportionately affected Black and brown students. Many of these officers have little to no training working with youth and as a result, children are more likely to be subject to arrests, most of which are nonviolent. These arrests negatively impact students and often result in them dropping out of schools and going into the criminal justice systems — leading to the school to prison pipeline.
Last week, the Minnesota legislature adjourned its one-week special session with no agreement on policing and criminal justice reforms despite the massive protests and uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. We can’t say we’re surprised, given Minnesota’s twisted past (and present) with its treatment of Black Americans. Minnesota has some of the biggest racial disparities in education, income, housing, and health. Last year, USA Today cited the Twin Cities as the fourth worst place for Black Americans to live. So what does all of this mean in this current era we’re in? Well, police reform may be a tougher battle than we thought.