DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Protesters chanted in front of the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters on Fourth Street and Beaudry Avenue in downtown Los Angeles to demand the defunding of LAUSD school police.
The protest took place as the LAUSD board meeting was in session. The board is set to reevaluate police presence in schools.
The protesters supported LAUSD board member Monica Garcia’s resolution, which calls for the reduction of school police funding.
Garcia’s resolution calls for a reduction of police funding by 50% in the coming year, 75% in the following year and 90% in the 2023-2024 school year.
The gradual reduction allows district officials to develop alternative safety and security plans. Garcia’s proposal is 1 of 3 motions up for discussion at the LAUSD board meeting today.
Before the protest, Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, led a libation to pay respects to the lives stolen by police violence. She called on some names of victims killed by the police in the past seven years: AJ Webber, Jesse Romero, Antwon Rose, Christopher Deandre Mitchell, Andres Delgado, Kenny Watkins, Aiyana Stanley Jones, Elijah Mcclain, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Wakiesha Wilson, Kisha Michael, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
“I want us all to summon that name, think of that name — your mother, your grandmother, your grandfather, your uncle, your neighbor. Call them forward, summon their name,” Abdullah said. “Ashe, ashe, ashe.”
After the libation, she shared the reason why BLM-L.A., as well as her own personal reason, came out to protest on Tuesday.
“We are here to back you up, we are here to say we don’t need no more police in schools, we’re here to say that schools should be places where you are nurtured, not policed,” Abdullah said. “I’m here as an organizer with BLM and I’m also here as the momma of three children in LAUSD.”
Abdullah said her son, 10, was first visited by the police in school when he was in the first grade.
“My son was 6 years old the first time he was called on for being a suspected gang member. How the hell are you 6 years old and a suspected gang member?” Abdullah said. “I guarantee you no little white boy has ever been a suspected gang member in the first grade.”
Abdullah pointed to the LAUSD building and said LAUSD need to do better.
“When we talk about defunding the school police, this is not a fucking theory. I’m sorry for cussing in front of the kids. This isn’t just about what we believe, this is about the lives of our very own children who are criminalized and traumatized constantly and then asked why they’re not doing good in their calculus test?” Abdullah said. “If you have school police who have AR-15 rifles in their fucking trucks, how do you think my children are suppose to learn?”
David Turner, a speaker at the protest, cheered, “We got to have it, right now, right now, right now,” which was repeated by the crowd.
The crowd also chanted “Students not suspects” in between speeches.
Maya Henry, a Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets alumna and incoming UCLA student, shared her experience being a Black student while school police were present on her campus.
“They say if you look into the eyes of a person, you can see their truth, as if all they believe in or every experience reveals themselves to you. Maybe that’s why the officers on our campus wear these shades because if they had the chance to look into their eyes, I’d probably be scared away. Maybe they wear these shades to mask who they really are, because they know if we could look them in the eyes, they wouldn’t be as tough as they try to be,” Henry said. “Dear LAUSD, the more you wait, the more students you fail, the more pain you create. Give us a chance to be great.”
Henry said the LAUSD doesn’t have to get rid of school police — they can reform, reinvent and reimagine it.
“Divest from school police, invest in Black youth,” Henry said.
Joseph Williams, a BLM-L.A. organizer, said the organization has been having these conversations before the George Floyd protests. He shared stories from friends who have sons that have been criminalized and accused of sexual assault at 6 years old.
“We have students crying, talking about how they were trying to break up a fight and being attacked by school police. Stop criminalizing our kids, stop criminalizing our students and look at us as children that we are,” Williams said. “Unfortunately as we know it, Black pain is not enough. We’ve been telling people long before George Floyd, we’ve been talking about that for a long time, but they haven’t listened to us until now.”