FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2021
Media Contact: Thena Robinson Mock
Communities for Just Schools Fund
Communities for Just Schools Fund Condemns
School Police Officer Attack on Black Student in Osceola County, Florida
Communities for Just Schools Fund stands with organizers following the #AssaultAtLiberty in Osceola County, Florida and reaffirms demands for #PoliceFreeSchools in Florida and nationally
WASHINGTON, D.C. - COVID is not the only threat to Black & Brown youth as they return to in-person learning. On Tuesday, January 26, 2021, viral video footage traveled across social media and news outlets showing a white Osceola County Sheriff’s deputy brutally assaulting a Black student at Liberty High School. The deputy body slammed the young girl to a concrete sidewalk, appearing to cause her to lose consciousness while she remained motionless on the ground as the deputy handcuffed her.
The presence of police officers in schools is a threat to the safety of Black and Brown youth and denies them an opportunity to learn and thrive. The physical and psychological policing of Black and Brown young people is a lethal tactic that upholds centuries-old systems of injustice and oppression. With its roots in the South to preserve the system of enslavement, policing as an institution has always operated in lockstep with its origins -- to terrorize and control Black people. As school districts begin to repurpose classrooms to ensure the safety of students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to end relationships with police departments and follow the lead of districts taking transformative steps to reimagine school safety. Should the Osceola County School District continue to employ the officers involved in this attack and maintain police presence inside of schools, they are complicit in fostering a school climate of abuse, racism and anti-Blackness.
“Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) stands in solidarity with our Florida community partners and partners in communities around the country who, for decades, have urged school districts to sever ties with police departments, divest in harmful carceral structures inside of schools, and reinvest resources into academic and student supports that create a truly safe and supportive learning environment for all students.” Thena Robinson Mock, Program Officer, Communities for Just Schools Fund. CJSF community partners have and continue to organize for schools that foster social and emotional support rather than school hardening, and are centered in transformative justice, rather than policing, punishment, and criminalization.
“Black girls & non-binary youth continue to be under attack in places meant to be sacred - their homes, communities and, yes, even their schools. Our girls are in fact children; a fact we have to reaffirm again and again because they are constantly seen and treated as adults - perceived as threats and not protected. Girls & non-binary youth have the right to be met with loving kindness and compassion by adults meant to care for them. We will continue to build power in South Florida and across the state to ensure the safety, well-being and thriving of Black and indigneous girls and non-binary youth and those of color. ” Tanisha “Wakumi” Douglas, Co-Founder and Executive Director of S.O.U.L. Sisters Leadership Collective.
Now is the time to redefine safety in terms of the holistic social and emotional well-being of young people, educators, families, and communities. While school districts reimagine what schooling can and should look like, communities have already shown us the way. If we want to create and sustain schools that are holistically safe, we must rid the buildings of the ills of policing, and instead provide the social and emotional support communities have been demanding for decades.
To learn more about local Florida and national organizing demands for accountability and action:
Florida Student Power Network Calls for All Police to be Removed From Schools and Responds to School Resource Officer Violence Against Youth
Miami Black Girls Matter Coalition Outraged by School Police Assault in Osceola County
Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice Respond to #AssaultAtLiberty
To learn more about the work of CJSF and our partners:
Do the Harder Work: Create Cultures of Connectedness in Schools
Reclaim SEL: Centering Organizing Praxis for Holistically Safe Schools
Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) is a national donor collaborative that supports the power of grassroots organizing to transform schools. CJSF currently resources 60 partner organizations across 20 states, Puerto Rico, and Ontario, Canada. Twitter: @justschools | Email: email@example.com