GRAND BOULEVARD — Following days of widespread demonstrations protesting police violence, activists and students are calling for Chicago Public Schools to break its contract with the Chicago Police Department for school resource officers.
The group plan to gather Thursday at 7 p.m. in front of the CPS Colman office, 4655 S. Dearborn. St.
Organized by activist Ja’Mal Green, who recently led a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd, hopes to build on the success of Minneapolis, where public school administrators severed ties with the local police department after pressure from activists.
Efforts to overhaul how school resource officers are used in student discipline have been ongoing and were sparked by federal oversight of the police department following the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. There also has been growing opposition to have officers on campuses, though local school councils with authority to make that decision unanimously voted last year to maintain police presence in schools. CPS approved a $33 million budget last year to employ CPD officers in schools.
“Research has shown that the mere presence of police increases the likelihood of Black and Brown students being referred to law enforcement for adolescent behavior,” Green told Block Club.
Green and others want CPS to take the money from the canceled CPD contract and spend it on mandatory training for and enough staffing of specialized therapists to handle large student bodies, funding for arts and extracurricular activities, and restorative justice efforts.
“I was kicked out of nine schools and went to 12, most of them CPS,” Green said. “If we don’t want young people to grow up and loot then we must listen to them and give police officers a boot out of their school. Let’s create an environment where they want to learn and be the best kids they can be without being criminalized.”
A number of special guests will also be in attendance at Thursday night’s rally, but Green declined to specify.
Multiple recent demonstrations have organized around broad restructuring of local police. Also Thursday, CPS students and community members are leading a protest demanding that the city defund the police department.
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