OAKLAND – In response to the national protest to reform the police, the Oakland Unified School District agreed to remove its own police force from the campus on Wednesday night.
In a unanimous vote, the board approved “George Floyd’s Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department.” Instead, the $ 2.5 million annually spent on the 10 sworn officers and police administrators is expected to be redirected to other student support services and restorative justice efforts.
Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell has from August through December 31 to build a new alternative safety plan, which will include input from a committee of community members and other stakeholders.
Of the nearly 30 speakers who addressed the board on Wednesday, all were in favor of the removal of the police force. Some talked about how black and brown students can feel dehumanized, disrespected, and generally unsure if they have police on campus. Others urged the board to set an example for the nation in its act of expelling the police.
The Black Organizing Project organization helped craft and bring the resolution to the board. Jessica Black, its organizing director, addressed the board about the importance of the resolution and her organization’s fight over the past 10 years to get the police out of schools.
“This is not just a small drop in the bucket. It is a historic moment, ”she said.
“We are still struggling to understand what true freedom is like in this country. Abolishing that system is critically important, “he continued.
The Black Organizing Project has been advocating for the vote throughout the week with protests in front of the school district office, car rallies, and other instances of support. On Wednesday, they held a special board surveillance party. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause when student board member Denilson Garibo, who was present at the surveillance party, showed the crowd to the rest of the board during the online meeting.
“I just want to say that the community is very happy right now. This is history for all of you, ”said Garibo.
The board agreed to approve the resolution with an additional amendment to include that teachers and staff, including board members themselves, will receive anti-racism training, training on unconscious or implicit bias.
School safety officers (or SSOs) are also expected to remain on campus as part of the new safety plan, but are likely to be retrained and reconfigured in a new role, board chair Jody London said. .
Oakland Unified spent $ 9.3 million on its police department from 2013 to 2018. Black students make up 26% of the student population in the district, but account for 73% of arrests, according to the board’s resolution.
The district police department started as a security force in 1957 and then received police status. In the late 1990s, the district expanded the force to make it more autonomous from the city police. In 2001, the district closed it for being too expensive and ineffective. But after a legal battle, he returned in 2007.
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