Students Criticize APS for Funding Police in Schools
APN previously reported in 2008 about activism by the American Civil Liberties Union to close an alternative education school that had been run by for-profit Community Education Partners for APS for so-called troubled youths. Forrest Hill Academy may have closed in 2009, but the problem of the school-to-prison pipeline continues.
The Carver students are part of Project South’s Youth Community Action Program (YCAP).
“The 10 Mil 4 Real campaign (#10M4R) seeks to confront police brutality that youth face in schools on an everyday basis. Over 10 million dollars are pumped into the Atlanta Police Department to increase police presence in Atlanta Public Schools. Though safety is stated the intent [sic], our youth are being beaten, tazed, and terrorized everyday by these same police officers for small time school offenses,” Project South said in a statement.
On Thursday, February 19, 2015, eight teens were gathered around a cluster of tables in a meeting room at Project South’s office.
Community organizer Jamar Raheem took notes on a whiteboard as the youth deliberated over the content of a survey, which is the first project of the campaign.
“We’re going to reach out to youth ages thirteen to twenty-four at our school and in other schools and communities,” Malika Benoit, a member of YCAP, told APN.
Their goal is to get 1,600 people to answer the survey which asks about respondents’ experiences with School Resource Officers (SROs), which is what APS calls police officers stationed in schools.
The young organizers expect that the information they collect will prove a need for the changes they’re calling for.
“We’re not trying to get SROs out completely. But APS is putting $10 million into weapons and police cars when our textbooks are outdated and our Internet doesn’t work,” Jaequan Allison, another YCAP member, told APN.
“There’s a joke around Carver that we have our own S.W.A.T. team. Instead we need to put that money into better food, better books, job training, staff to help with childcare for those of us who are parents, healthcare, and transportation,” Allison said.
Youth organizers of 10 Mil 4 Real will initially focus on collecting testimonials and getting more students and community members involved. As the campaign unfolds, they will develop demands and seek meetings with APS officials.