On the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against racism, colonialism/materialism and militarism, Freedom, Inc. protested against the use of police in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
In October 2016, MMSD and the Madison City Council approved a two-year contract that would station one uniformed police officer at four of the district’s main high schools.
Protesters at the event, which was held concurrently with the general elections, expressed their concerns with how having police officers in the school would disproportionately affect black and brown youth.
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The Tuesday protest began with the raising of a banner which read, “Community control of the police!” and more than 30 students and families chiming in to shout their disapproval with police in schools.
Passing cars honked to show their support for the protesters as they chanted together.
The crowd began their protest in front of the Kohl Center and made their way down West Dayton Street toward the Doyle Administration building, where members of MMSD vote on policies involving all schools in the area.
“People who are capable of voting today, vote for change and the removal of cops from schools,” T. Banks, a member of Freedom, Inc., said.
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Banks said he wants the community to rally around students and talk to the superintendent to defund police presence in schools.
The community should be able to trust teachers and administrators to handle conflicts within the school and not have to call the authorities, Banks said.
While Banks said he hopes to see change soon, he, along with students and families, will continue to voice their opinions until police presence is pulled from schools.
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A megaphone was passed around to three students who were asked why they did not want police in their schools. The students’ answers ranged from “I don’t want to get arrested” to “I want my siblings to feel safe.”
During the walk from the Kohl Center to the Doyle Building, several police officers helped direct traffic while the protesters were in the street.
At the end of the march, Banks called for both youth and adults to pursue the issue further.