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Teachers unions, activists call for removing police from schools in Democrat-run cities

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Leftist teacher’s unions and activists are increasingly calling for removing police officers from schools in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, part of a wider “Defund the Police” effort that is growing in Democrat-run cities.

On Monday, United Teachers Los Angeles, the city’s teacher’s union, called on leaders to disband the Los Angeles School Police Department, a 400-officer force that is deployed to the city’s schools and which consumes only about $70 million of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s annual budget of around $7.9 billion.

“We have to dismantle white supremacy. We must … defund the police and bring in the mental health services that our students need,” Cecily Myart-Cruz, the incoming president of UTLA, said.

The union represents around 30,000 teachers, nurses, counselors and other staff, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Last week, the union board voted 35-2 to “start a process” that will ultimately culminate in a union-wide vote on whether to “take money out of the school police department and put it directly into mental health support, counselors, academic counselors,” current UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “We can have 800 mental health supporters by using that money.”

The effort to remove cops from the LAUSD aligns with a movement to defund the Los Angeles Police Department. Last week, after being pressured by Left-wing activist groups including Black Lives Matter, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti reversed an earlier decision to boost pay and bonuses for the city’s nearly 10,000 rank-and-file officers and instead vowed to cut the police budget by $100-$150 million.

“Prejudice can never be part of police work…It takes bravery to save lives, too,” he told a press conference. “We will not be increasing our police budget.”

Activists are also pushing to remove police from schools in Chicago. The Chicago Teachers Union, along with “community groups,” have started circulating a petition to have officers removed from schools, according to ChalkBeat Chicago, which added that parents, teachers, and others have “flooded” the Chicago PD with phone calls.

The calls come as Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) pledged police reforms “including increased training and a shift in recruitment, sometimes in the next 90 days,” Chalkbeat Chicago added. When asked if her administration would rethink putting officers in schools, City Hall did not respond, the site added.

The city spends $33 million to station police officers on school campuses. Also, the city hires and trains its own school security force.

Demonstrators in Detroit are also calling to remove cops from schools, WDET reports. In addition, activists are demanding that the city divert some of the current funding for the Detroit Police Department to public schools; expunge all convictions that are past 15 years old; and end a police surveillance program known as “Project Green Light.”

“I think people specifically want to make sure that we’re demilitarizing the police here,” said Tristan Taylor, one of the organizers of the movement. “Because we’ve seen over the last couple days just how extensive that is and how problematic that is.”

Taylor added that organizers plan to meet with Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig to give them their list of demands.

The push to remove police officers from schools runs counter to calls over the past few years to add them as more schools became targets of mass shootings.

Following the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, calls to put more officers in schools increased, though they were opposed by civil rights groups, Vox reported.

“Police in schools is an issue of American racial disparity that requires deep structural change,” a joint report titled “We Came to Learn: A Call to Action for Police-Free Schools,” by the Advancement Project and the Alliance for Educational Justice, said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said Monday that Democrats who want to pull police officers from often violent schools have “lost their minds.”

“Dems have lost their minds. Having met repeatedly w/victims, parents & teachers hurt by gun violence in schools, the single most effective way to keep our kids safe is more armed police officers in schools,” he wrote on Twitter in response to a Political story noting that a “police-free schools movement” was gaining traction.

“This idiotic proposal would tragically result in MORE school shootings,” he noted further.

Jon Dougherty

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