Spokane NAACP sees there is much more work to do to achieve civil rights
The Spokane NAACP has been at the forefront of Civil Rights work in the Pacific Northwest for over 100 years. Through that time, we have led countless campaigns for criminal justice and police reform in this community.
While we are proud of all that has been accomplished thus far, it is clear that there is much more work to do. In this time, we are tasked with coming forward to present a positive, transformative, and bold vision of what justice can look like. Now is the time to fundamentally reimagine how we as a community promote public safety and community wellbeing.
To that end, we, the Spokane Branch of the NAACP, are making the following demands of our elected representatives at the local, state, and federal level.
Develop. We call for a plan to investigate, develop, pilot, and implement alternative evidence-based models and programs that promote public safety.
Demilitarize. We call on our leaders to take steps to demilitarize the local, county, and state law enforcement. This includes developing and implementing a plan to discontinue the acquisition of military-grade equipment and practice of equipping officers conducting non-emergent duties with firearms.
Redirect. Our budgets reflect our priorities. We are calling on the City of Spokane to reduce the amount of funding allocated to law enforcement and direct the savings to departments that directly serve vulnerable populations and communities of color.
Protect. We must protect the autonomy of our Police Ombudsman's Office and expand their ability to conduct independent investigations.
Statement from the Spokane NAACP Executive Committee - June 12, 2020
6.26.20 Statement from the Spokane NAACP #1137
We at the NAACP Education Committee are demanding a safe and equitable future for our children; paramount to this future is getting police out of schools, divesting from school CRO (Community Resource Officer) programs, and investing in social services such as trained mental health counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists for our students.
If there is conflict in schools, instead of calling the police, our children should be able to go to mediation, talk to a counselor, or watch a video to learn how to reset their emotions. Having mental health counselors and other support staff available to students, instead of untrained policemen who disproportionately arrest children of color is of the utmost importance to us.
Statistically, having mental health services available to children who are stressed or traumatized, especially in low-income districts, has been proven to have positive impacts on school attendance rates, better academic achievement, and higher graduation rates as well as lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents. The data is clear, the presence of school-based mental health resources not only improves outcomes for students, but it also improves overall school safety.
By stark contrast, there is no evidence that CROs present on school campuses improves school safety. Instead, it causes harm, and that harm is caused, disproportionately, to students of color. Last year, for example, in Spokane Public Schools, CROs arrested students of color at over half the rate of white students while these students of color make up less than one-third of the student population. Nationwide, Black children represent 34% of children who are arrested. Parallels can be drawn to understand that the presence of CROs in schools is the first step in the school-to-prison pipeline.
Having CROs in school has been shown to have negative impacts on Black students including lower attendance rates, lower test scores, higher truancy rates, and lower college admission rates. Thus, we need to divert resources from the CRO program to get CROs out of schools and mental health resources in schools.
We are asking you to do the right thing, to invest in our children, and to create a more equitable education system for all children, not just those of privilege.
The NAACP Education Committee
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2020