The school district voted unanimously on a resolution that terminates all contracts that it has with the Minneapolis Police Department in light of George Floyd's murder.
Trigger Warning: Racism
Following in the footsteps of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools has now terminated all contracts with the Minneapolis Police Department. The decision to do so was triggered by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by former police officer Derek Chauvin. The school district unanimously approved the move on Tuesday night and issued a statement shortly thereafter. At present, the board is working on developing an alternative plan for when schools reopen in the upcoming academic year 2020 - 2021, The Guardian reports. The board hoped that their decision will prove that systemic change is possible if institutions vote to take swift action.
Under the approved resolution, Minneapolis Public Schools will cease further negotiations with the police department and Superintendent Ed Graff must come up with a new plan for school safety by the board's August 18 board meeting.— Ryan Faircloth (@RyanFaircloth) June 2, 2020
The resolution the school board unanimously voted on ends the school district’s contract with the Minneapolis Police Department to use officers to provide school security. Now, they have to figure out how to keep 35,000 students safe while on campus before the next school year begins. While it is a tricky task, the Minneapolis Public Schools is determined to move forward. Nelson Inz, one of the school board members, stated, "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. We have to stand in solidarity with our black students."
These are exactly the kinds of measures that need to be taken to not only send the message that the system is broken, but also to protect our children from being the victim of the brutality that senselessly took the life of Mr. Floyd.— mi_keezy (@mi_keezy) June 3, 2020
Good job Minneapolis Public Schools! pic.twitter.com/nAKNn21ni2
This sentiment was echoed in Board Chair Kim Ellison's statement following the vote. "We must take all actions within our power to stop systems of oppression," she affirmed. "For the MPS School Board, that means discontinuing our contractual relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department." Superintendent Ed Graff added, "My leadership team and I are committed to preparing a plan that will support the safety of MPS students and staff in the coming school year by the Board resolution’s August 18, 2020, deadline. We look forward to engaging students, staff, and families in this process over the summer."
In a survey conducted prior to the vote, 90 percent of the 1,500 Minneapolis students who responded believed that the district should cut ties. The Minneapolis teachers union too endorsed the termination of the district's contract. In a statement issued last week, two local union officials explained, "The officers of the Minneapolis police department have become symbols of fear to the children those officers were sworn to serve and protect." While some folks relayed the positive experiences they have had with MPD officers, a large majority of the faculty and student body expressed that they did not feel safe being policed by the department and also pointed out that the MPD did not share the same values as the school district.
Despite imminent storm, hundreds out at headquarters of Minneapolis Public Schools to ask the district to end contract with Minneapolis Police and put resources into social workers and mental health aids. Rep. Ilhan Omar about to speak now. pic.twitter.com/Iz7vFjnSyK— Alex Baumhardt (@AlexBaumhardt) June 2, 2020
Since the vote, several organizing bodies across the United States have reached out to privately to help Minneapolis Public Schools navigate the ongoing situation. For those fighting to de-police public schools entirely, this vote was a major win. Neva Walker, the executive director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, a non-profit group dedicated to creating more equitable public schools, noted, "In San Francisco, we’ve had 10-year-olds that have had the police called on them. Kindergarteners. Fifth-graders. We have to get past the idea that police are the means to protect our children, especially for black and brown students." Though cutting ties with the MPD may not necessarily bring Floyd and his family justice, it is definitely a step in the right direction to protect children of color.