Jan 15 2013

Critics of Armed Campus Patrols Say It Criminalizes Students of Color

Families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre are looking for peaceful, non-violent solutions to combat violence in schools like the one that took away the lives of 26 of their own almost one month ago. Some family members and those affiliated with the group, Sandy Hook Promise, have sent proposals to the national task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden to push for accountability and responsibility on the part of gun owners.

Their approach conflicts with the NRA’s – the nation’s largest gun lobby group has asserted that the best way to prevent shootings in schools is to make it legal for faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on campuses.

Nationally, a number of schools have increased armed campus patrols since students returned from winter break. Patrols in cities like Houston and Los Angeles include visits from state troopers, police officers, and most controversially in Maricopa County, Arizona, armed volunteers.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has enlisted 500 volunteers to patrol 59 schools and did not consult students or some school officials beforehand. An investigation by CBS revealed that among the 500 volunteers several had convictions of drug possession, sex crimes against children, and impersonating an officer, in addition to other offenses.

Here in Los Angeles, the LAPD has increased patrols of public schools. However, some LA communities are speaking out against the greater presence of armed law enforcement in middle and elementary schools, citing the increased criminalization of students of color that results from it.

But the idea of armed school patrols persists – even some gun control advocates favor it: California senator, Barbara Boxer introduced an initiative that would provide federal funding for schools to hire police officers and install surveillance equipment in schools.

A 16-year-old at Taft Union High School in Bakersfield last week shot a classmate in a classroom of 28. He was eventually talked down by his unarmed teacher into putting down his gun before being arrested.

GUESTS: Manuel Criollo, Director of Organizing at the Labor Strategy Center and works with the Center’s Community Rights Campaign, Jim Eichner is the Managing Director of Programs at the Advancement Project, formerly a staff attorney at the Department of Education, and has also worked at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice

For more information, visit www.thestrategycenter.org, www.communityrightscampaign.org, and www.advancementproject.org.

Click here for a direct link to the Advancement Project’s petition to the White House against armed guards in schools.

There will be a rally and march against armed campus patrols of LAUSD schools on Monday January 21st, 2013 (MLK day), at 3:30 pm, starting on the corner of 3rd and Spring in downtown Los Angeles.

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