The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, the ACLU of New Jersey and the Education Law Center responded to Gov. Murphy’s decision to increase police presence in schools in response to Tuesday’s tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Statements from the social justice organizations are below.
“In the wake of back-to-back senseless mass shootings that have targeted communities of color in New York and Texas, families are shaken and scared. But at this moment, we need clarity in our response to these tragedies,” said Yannick Wood, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “We need to focus and act on the causes of these tragedies, like the availability, on demand, of guns across our country, as well as the lack of access to mental health services. Adding more school security on the backend is not the solution to this problem. It will also have a particularly negative impact on students of color who are often introduced into the school-to-prison pipeline through school security, which is why we recently joined other advocates to petition the State Board of Education to prohibit the use of security aid on ineffective expenditures like school resource officers.”
“Yesterday’s tragedy in Uvalde, just like the ones days ago in Irvine and Buffalo, were preventable. The dual epidemics of gun violence and political radicalization are not new – and yet with each tragedy, we watch policy makers resort to the same, faulty solutions. Despite having armed guards at their school, over 20 people are still dead,” said Amy Torres with New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “Increased police presence in schools does only one thing: subject children and families of Color to multiple traumas and violence, whether by individual actors or institutions plagued with systemic racism. Further, due to Uvalde’s location within the 100-mile border zone, ICE and CBP officers responded to the crisis, forcing many immigrant parents to make the impossible choice between checking on the survival of their child or having their identifying information shared with deportation agents. As an immigrant rights coalition in New Jersey, a state that falls within this same 100-mile border zone and where over 40% of children come from an immigrant family, this is troubling. A secure New Jersey is one where all families feel safe – regardless of their immigration status or the color of their skin.”
“It is imperative that New Jersey take action to ensure the safety of students but adding more police to our schools in the wake of this horrific tragedy is not the solution. Increased police presence in schools will lead to more students being introduced to the criminal legal system, especially students of color and students with disabilities. We need a comprehensive plan for student safety that provides real support to our students, including restorative justice practices and access to trained mental health professionals,” said Joe Johnson, Policy Counsel at the ACLU of New Jersey.
“More police will not make schools safe. We join the Governor in calling for stronger gun control. But what’s needed in schools is a holistic approach based on research and proven strategies that include sufficient counselors, social workers, and nurses to provide students with a supportive environment. It’s time for the State Department of Education to lead that effort in response to our recently filed rulemaking petition on security aid,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director.