The recent, rushed decision by Portland Public Schools to increase the presence of police in schools is dangerous, misguided, and potentially unconstitutional. The decision was made with a laughable attempt at community involvement, and flies in the face of environmental justice principles. The most impacted people in decision-making need to control the process. Instead, youth walked out on the vote, because their concerns were ignored.
We stand with the students who are organizing themselves to intervene, particularly the students of color who are rightly afraid of what police presence in schools means for communities targeted by police violence. We hear you. Your concerns are valid. We respect your right to decide in policy decisions that impact you. At a time when schools in Oregon are failing students of color at alarming rates, increasing the presence of police officers does nothing to ensure the better educational attainment of our youth.
At OPAL, we envision a city free from the militarization that our society creeps further toward every day. While members of Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA) are focused on improving educational outcomes by winning free transit access and preventing exclusionary discipline, our Bus Riders Unite (BRU) members are building an alternative to transit policing that centers community-defined safety. The youth standing against the Portland Public Schools board’s decision have our full support and solidarity.