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New report shows racial disparities in school policing, demands cops out of Chicago schools

AFSC and youth organizing partners release #CopsOutCPS report outlining racial disparities and misconduct records of school-based police officers

Young people dancing at a community organizing event
Photo: Sarah-Ji/@loveandatrugglephotos

CHICAGO (July 17, 2020) Chicago students have engaged in a multi-year campaign to remove police, called “school resource officers” from Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The school district spends at least $33 million dollars per year to employ 180 police officers inside the school, which students argue would be better spent on supportive staff who don’t have a history and practice of using violence against students, particularly Black youth. The campaign recently released a report documenting the problem. 

“The #CopsOutCPS report, produced with support from American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) staff and former youth interns, has provided powerful evidence to back up students’ demands and has already helped build inroads with the appointed officials who will ultimately decide whether or not police will return to schools in Chicago next year,” said Debbie Southorn, of AFSC Chicago Peacebuilding and co-author of the report.  

The culmination of nearly a year of Freedom of Information Act request inquiries of both the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Public Schools revealed that:

  • Black students currently experience school based policing at four times the rate of white students. Black students make up 36% of all CPS students, yet 66% were the subject of Police Notifications from 2011/12 to 2017/18.  
  • Students ages six-10 were the subject of more than 300 police incidents from 2015-2018.
  • The 180 Police Officers assigned to CPS and their supervisors have a combined total of 2,354 misconduct complaint records on file against them.
    The money spent on 180 officers could fund 317 social workers, 314 school psychologists, or 322 nurses. 

This data, while unfortunately not surprising, has added urgency and emphasis to students’ fight to remove police from their schools. Even unlikely allies on the Mayoral appointed CPS Board of Education itself have taken notice of the research. In her June resolution to the Board of Education to cut ties with the Chicago Police Department, CPS School Board member Elizabeth Todd Breland cited the #CopsOutCPS report, and commended student activists for their work.  

“It felt like someone in power was finally saying ‘I’m listening to you and I see you,’ which is always huge,” said youth organizer and former AFSC intern Jennifer Nava, in response to Breland’s support of  the ‘police out of schools’ resolution. “We don’t seek adult acknowledgement or need it to validate our work, but I think we’ll always welcome when an adult does credit our work and does truly show they’re with us.”

While the resolutions did not pass in June, they will be up for consideration again before the FY21 school year begins, and students are continuing to organize, build pressure on local school board members, and build mass popular support for the reality that to have safe schools, students need support not policing.  
Read the full report here: https://copsoutcps.com/2020/06/16/new-report-on-copsoutcps/

AFSC produced the report in partnership with Beyond Legal Aid, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Assata’s Daughters, and Enlace Chicago.

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. 

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