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09/27/2017 | Organizing for Education Justice, Promoting Strong Public Schools, Racial Justice

Young People Lead Rally and March to Reduce School-to-Prison and School-to-Deportation Pipeline in New York City

On Friday, September 22 a group of about 200 activists, led by high school students, took to the steps of the NYC Department of Education and marched to Manhattan Criminal Summons Court calling for an end to arrests, summons, and NYPD juvenile reports in schools for misdemeanors and non-criminal violations. The action was organized and led by student members of the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC). UYC is a coalition that includes Make the Road New York, Sistas and Brothas United, and Future of Tomorrow. Watch the rally again here.

The protest was aimed at highlighting analysis (conducted by UYC and the Center for Popular Democracy) of the most recent NYPD data which shows that during the last year young people in NYC schools experienced 1,106 arrests, 960 NYPD juvenile reports, 805 summonses, and 2,702 mental health crises in schools where NYPD officers intervened.

Although certain recent policy reforms regarding the mandate of NYPD officers in schools have led to a reduction in arrests and summons of students, Black and Latinx youth account for nearly all the young people funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline and are increasingly vulnerable to the school-to-deportation pipeline. Black and Latinx youth represent 67% of all students enrolled in NYC public schools but account for 92.4% of all students arrested, 88.6% of students receiving summons, 88.8% of NYPD juvenile reports, and 96% of students handcuffed during a mental health crisis. The youngest student handcuffed during a “child-in-crisis” incident was a five-year-old Black girl. Nearly 78% of all arrests, summons, and juvenile reports in schools are for misdemeanors and non-criminal violations.

At the rally, a number of speakers highlighted these severe racial disparities characterizing the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipelines and called for urgent, transformative policy reform. In particular, youth leaders called on Mayor de Blasio to end the practice of using arrests, summonses, and juvenile reports for misdemeanors and non-criminal violations.

"New York City has been criminalizing Black and Latinx students for normal youthful behavior for decades. It’s 2017, and we are the only young people getting arrested, given summonses, and handcuffed. It can’t be acceptable that we are treated differently because of the color of our skin,” said Matthew Beeston, a youth leader of Future of Tomorrow and the Urban Youth Collaborative.

Irma Barrios, youth leader at Make the Road New York and the Urban Youth Collaborative, added that “Schools should be sanctuaries full of love and respect, not a place where we are pushed into the criminal justice system. Students of color can’t find sanctuaries until our school system stops feeding youth into Rikers Island and other detention centers.”