Over a dozen local MFOL chapters will lead grassroots efforts to cut police contracts; new PSA calls on young people to take action at peacewithoutpolice.com
Parkland, FL — March For Our Lives today launched a coordinated, multi-state grassroots advocacy campaign to address police violence as a key contributor to the gun violence epidemic in America. Peace Without Police: Schools Need Care Not Cops focuses on removing police presence from the school environment, where young people are likely to first encounter carceral responses to ordinary childhood behavior.
Studies show that School Resource Officers (SROs) are not immune to the systemic violence and failures of policing as a whole. According to a 2021 study by The Violence Project, civilian deaths in school shootings where an armed officer is present are more likely than when an officer isn’t present. Furthermore, schools with police have about 3.5 times as many arrests as schools without police, according to the ACLU. These statistics support the lived experience of students: SROs respond to violence rather than preventing it from happening in the first place; they create an environment of criminality rather than learning; and they overly target BIPOC children, creating a funnel into the prison industrial complex rather than creating a safe environment for student well-being. Instead of investing further into failed solutions, Peace Without Police demands that funding for SROs are reinvested into counselors, mental health professionals, well-paid teachers, and state-of-the-art educational resources.
“There’s no ending gun violence without addressing police violence. In too many instances to count, we’ve seen police resort to the very immoral behavior and violence that they are supposed to prevent. They use guns to intimidate, injure and kill. They use excessive physical force even when responding to non-criminal activity, and they disproportionately harm the most marginalized people in society,” said Gaby Salazar, March For Our Lives National Organizing Director. “We believe that police do not prevent, but actually cultivate, the conditions for gun violence to thrive. We can’t fight violence with more violence and expect peace. Policing is dangerous and unacceptable for children and schools. We deserve peace without police.”
In a new PSA featuring Los Angeles-based organizer Thandiwe Abdullah, March For Our Lives calls on current high school and college-aged students to join the campaign. By texting PEACE to 954954 or visiting peacewithoutpolice.com, people aged 25 and under can become involved with nearby MFOL chapter efforts, volunteer remotely, or access training and materials to start a Peace Without Police campaign in their community.
“When I’m in the classroom, feeling safe is critical to learning, but cops are not the answer. Students deserve protection, we deserve genuine care—and it’s impossible for that love and nourishment to come from people who are meant to punish us,” said Thandiwe Abdullah, March For Our Lives organizer who has successfully organized to remove police from school campuses since age 13. “Defunding the police to invest in communities may be a new concept to some, but it’s been done before. I invite everyone who has been newly radicalized to go beyond the rhetoric and help make change happen with us.”
Thirteen March For Our Lives chapters in regions across the country are taking part in the campaign, with a significant initial focus on raising community awareness on the harms of police in schools, in order to build a powerful base of advocates for direct actions and lobbying. On-the-ground efforts to remove SROs are taking place in Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Texas, spanning both high school and college campuses.
In some local communities, students will be holding elected officials and other school leaders accountable to existing promises to reduce or eliminate SRO funding. In others, students will call for more transparency in the obscure funding process of budgeting for SROs. Some school districts have only recently begun to incorporate SROs into their budget, and students will advocate to reverse this disturbing trend. All local campaigns have an end goal of establishing more robust resources for student well-being and empowering student voices in decisions on how school safety is funded.
Today, June 30th, participating chapters are hosting direct actions in their communities to commemorate the launch of Peace Without Police, putting institutions and decision-makers on notice that students will be taking safety into their own hands.
Young people with the March For Our Lives Arizona Chapter will protest Glendale Union High School School District Office on June 30th to demand that the Glendale Union School Board immediately reallocate funding away from School Resource Officers and towards evidence-based mental health resources that actually provide care to students.
In Colorado, young people will drop banners at the Jefferson County Public School Districts office on June 30th to demand the school board remove School Resource Officers from elementary, middle, and high schools in the county.
In Maryland, young people will drop banners in Montgomery County and Carroll County on June 30th to demand that School Resource Officers be removed in their school districts and resources reallocated.
“School Resource Officers don’t help. More often, they harm us. Especially children of color in our very own communities. That is why things need to change. As a new generation we have to fight for what’s right, we can’t sit around and wait for things to change. That’s why March For Our Lives Maryland is working towards creating safer communities through our Peace Without Police Campaign. We demand change,” said Malvika Reddy, March For Our Lives’ Maryland Co-Director
Nearly a dozen other chapters across the country will also conduct actions to make clear what young people need and demand: safe schools without cops.