Terminate Contract with Phoenix Police Department
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UPDATED DEMANDS (JULY 15TH)
We stand with students, educators, and families of PXU who ask for the permanent removal of SRO’s. We understand that, while the school district has not renewed its contract with the Phoenix Police Department, the District may consider it again in the future as part of the participatory budget process. SROs must not be added through any participatory budget process. In order to create a plan that is transparent and accountable, we also request that you include community organizations as part of all participatory budgeting committees. As AZ Superintendent Kathy Hoffman stated in her Roadmap for Reopening schools, community organizations are vital partners in the school reopening process. Since SRO’s are a component of re-opening schools, and definitely school safety, community organizations should be involved in the decision-making process.
If the district claims to be committed to anti-racism, it should understand what that term means in action. Being an anti-racist institution involves fully acknowledging the ways systems and institutions create racism. With the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black Americans in the last month, a national movement has brought attention to the systemic racism of police violence and mass incarceration, as well as the billions of dollars spent on policing instead of social support and services. Phoenix Union cannot be an antiracist institution without defunding police and fully investing in the wellbeing of students.
It is contradictory to announce you will not renew an SRO plan for the 2020-2021 school year while not committing to permanently ending school resource officer programs. Anything less than a total commitment to permanently defund SRO’s and a partnership with community organizations who work directly with students from the district is at best temporary, and at worst a publicity stunt.
The current climate of the United States proves that racism and injustice are ever prevalent in our society. Innocent Black lives are being taken. We have a corrupt government system that condones police brutality. Now, more than ever, students need to know that they are going to a school and school district that values their lives. Students need to feel safe in schools.
On June 1st, 2020, Dr. Chad Gestson, superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District released a statement expressing his feelings regarding the current state of our nation. However, Dr. Gestson offered no plan as to how to move forward and ensure that Black students are safe within PXU. In short, Dr. Gestson offered his thoughts and prayers, but no course of action.
Now is not the time to be silent. Being silent equals being complicit. PXU needs to take a stand and let their students, especially their Black students, know that their lives matter and that they will be protected on PXU campuses. Therefore, PXU needs to terminate their contract with the Phoenix Police Department and remove all Student Resource Officers from PXU campuses and direct that funding towards resources for students, such as access to social workers, mental health resources, etc.
Racism is systematic and engrained within our government system, especially the police system. In order to combat racism, drastic measures need to be taken. Removing the presence of police officers on campus will be a step towards the right direction.
PXU students deserve to be on a campus where they feel safe and welcome. It's time for PXU to step up and show students that Black Lives Matter.
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