Dear Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Directors,
We are writing to demand Minneapolis Public Schools end its partnership with the Minneapolis Police Department following the racialized violence that has taken place at the hands of its officers, as exemplified in the murder of George Floyd this week. He screamed “I can’t breathe” while a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. We must call this what it is. This was a modern-day lynching. MPS should no longer be willing to be linked to the criminalization and killing of black and brown bodies. We demand justice for all those impacted - including the students of color in your district.
There is not only a moral duty to cut existing ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following this injustice, and so many others that came before it, but an opportunity to honor and protect your students by immediately ending this relationship. Institutions across Minneapolis, including the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, have already stepped up to ensure the safety of young people of color is top priority by ending its contract with MPD. MPS leaders need to follow suit for our K-12 youth.
This is not the first time our student organizers have called upon you to make the right decision when it comes to police in our schools. We were proud of the leadership demonstrated by board members who voted to work towards minimizing MPS’ contract with MPD in 2019 as a result of hundreds of petition signatures from our #ProtectedNotSuspected campaign. Today, too many influential figures in our city are saying we need to wait to act. The time is now.
Black and brown students do not feel safe. Recent police actions that lead to George Floyd’s death have made this trauma even worse for young people, especially given a long history of students of color being unfairly targeted by school discipline policies. An ongoing contract between Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Police Department only further perpetuates those biases that need to be dismantled. A life was lost and nothing will bring George Floyd back. However, Minneapolis Public Schools can take action to create safe schools - and bring much needed protection and justice to the community it has the honor of serving.
While we appreciate Superintendent Graff’s words in honor of George Floyd at Tuesday's school board meeting, MPS needs to push beyond condolences in order to build the truly equitable vision of the future it speaks of. Please stand on the right side of history and take this step to break the cycle of oppression that has been perpetuated through our school and prison systems for centuries. Serve and protect students of color by ending your partnership with the Minneapolis Police Department today.
Student Organizers of Our Turn Twin Cities (formerly SFER)
About Move School Forward
As we are inundated with calls for “reopening schools” and returning to normal, it is crucial that we demand a just future for our education system that includes students as full participants in the decision-making process, from the school to state levels. Where people are reimagining the future of schools, the voices of the most marginalized students are consistently sidelined. Our collective of youth-driven organizations has outlined key principles to move school forward. Read our demands.