The Minneapolis Board of Education (MBOE) voted unanimously on Tuesday (June 2) to end their contract with the local police department in the wake of George Floyd’s death, The Guardian reports. “We cannot continue to be in partnership with an organization that has the culture of violence and racism that the Minneapolis police department has historically demonstrated,” school board member Nelson Inz said of the decision. “We have to stand in solidarity with our Black students.”
The approved resolution has been a long time coming for Black, Latinx and Indigenous Minneapolis Public School (MPS) students. The now terminated contract had been in place since 1980, according to local news outlet MPLS St. Paul, and employed “16 police officers in schools, who are called Student Resource Officers (SROs),” most recently with a $1 million budget.
Rayna Acha, a student organizer with Young People’s Action Coalition (YPAC), described by MPLS as “an independent, entirely youth-run organization addressing social justice issues at a systemic level,” told the news outlet her group had been trying to get police removed from their schools years before Floyd’s murder. “A few months ago, [YPAC was] really losing hope and felt like we weren’t getting anywhere with police presence in schools. [The board] has heard us and seen us, and gotten calls from us,” she told MPLS. “It’s upsetting that people have to see someone be murdered in the street to take serious action. That makes it feel like student voices weren’t enough.”
“It is deeply frustrating that the MPS board needed to see a Minneapolis police officer brutally murder George Floyd in order to finally make the change that students have been demanding for years,” Kenneth Eban of student advocacy group Our Turn Twin Cities said in a statement obtained by MPLS. “Students have directly advocated to end the contract with MPD with school board members through emails, meetings, delivering hundreds of petition signatures, and providing testimony at school board meetings,” he said.
In a letter to the Minneapolis Board of Ed last week, student members of Our Turn Twin Cities said, “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.”
Nathaniel Genene, the student representative on the MBOE, said Tuesday’s decision won’t bring justice for Floyd, but “it will show that meaningful change is possible,” he said, according to The Guardian.
According to The Guardian, Minneapolis superintendent Ed Graff said he would begin work on a new plan “to keep the district’s more than 35,000 students safe in the coming school year.”