Exclusive Clip: Reform L.A. Jails Wants to Reinvest the $1.6 Million for School Overpolicing Into the Community

Eastside High School sign, located in Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District.
Eastside High School sign, located in Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District.
Screenshot: Reform L.A. Jails/YouTube

“Education, not incarceration.”

There have been reports in the past that show increased policing is not an effective way to reduce crimes committed in schools, yet the overpolicing continues. This issue has been especially highlighted in the past year, due to the increased visibility of movements such as “defund the police” and “abolish the police.”

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Local initiative Reform L.A. Jails introduces a new documentary-style video series titled, “Our AV: Retelling our past. Reimagining our future,” which will feature “Antelope Valley (AV) community members’ racist and violent experiences with law enforcement, along with how they reimagine their communities looking differently if money was reinvested into a new vision of community safety and meaningful services.”

About the video series, from the official press release sent to The Root:

For the first part of this series, we asked students, alumni, teachers, and parents in the AV about their views on police in schools and ideas on alternatives for spending $1.6 million currently spent on police in schools. We want viewers to hear stories about police in schools and alternatives authentically told from those most directly impacted by the issue. We also want to inspire people to fill out our survey on police in schools to share their voice and get involved in the campaign. We’ll also create 3 shorter pieces that each focus on students, educators, and parents/guardians specifically.

In an exclusive clip sent to The Root, an Eastside High School teacher James recounts the time he called security on a young male student because the student wasn’t in class by the time the bell rang. However, because administration wasn’t available to process the report, the young boy was referred to an on-campus cop who then sent him to juvenile hall.

Cancel the Contract: Antelope Valley schools / Reform L.A. Jails (YouTube)

“I look at that kid and the fact that his whole life trajectory changed because of a phone call I made,” James says in the clip. “Because of the fact that there was an administrator who was not able to talk to him...because there was a cop on our campus. If there was not a cop there—if there was a psychiatrist, if there was a counselor, if there was anyone besides a cop, that kid is back on campus that next day. That kid might have graduated from our school. That kid might’ve been doing college and all sorts of great things at this point.”

Not only is overpolicing criminalizing students instead of actually helping them, the implementation is clearly disproportionate when it comes to race. Reform L.A. Jail found that “Black students make up 16.7 percent of the student population at Antelope Valley Union High School District, yet they received over half of all law enforcement contacts reported under the Racial Identity and Profiling Act.”

The specific list of the #CanceltheContractAV campaign is as follows:

1. Cancel the Antelope Valley Union High School District contract with the LA County Sheriff Department.

2. Call for the California DOJ to open a civil rights investigation in to the historical and ongoing state violence and white supremacist activities in the Antelope Valley.

3. Arrest the Sheriff deputies that murdered Michael Thomas in Lancaster in June 2020.

4. Demand the LA County Board of Supervisors comply with the Settlement Agreement and stop using County Counsel to thwart compliance.

5. Cancel the Palmdale and Lancaster contracts with the LA County Sheriff Department.

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“I don’t want to fear every day in a place where I’m supposed to learn,” Marcha Daniels, youth activist, said at a recent rally powered by Reform L.A. Jails and its initiative Cancel the Contract Coalition protesting the misuse of force by the L.A. County Sheriff Department. “I should not have to walk in my school and put my head down when I see police. Who are police to protect when it’s them who I fear the most? We should not be investing money into those who don’t care about our future or wellbeing. I should not have to see police put down Black men. I shouldn’t have to fear that it could be me. This epidemic of policing needs to end.”

“We have to take the kids where they are and try to give them what they need and learn from them,” Barron, a teacher at Antelope Valley High School, adds in the clip.

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For more information about the #CanceltheContractAV campaign as well as join the fight, visit cancelthecontract.com.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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