Re: “Aptos in Shock” (GT, 9/8): The tragedy that is the murder of the youth at Aptos High is huge. It will be embedded in our community’s consciousness for a long time. It is deeply sad and heartbreaking for everyone involved, including those who caused the harm, families, students, teachers—the whole community.
I commend and fully support the decision to keep police off our school campuses. While the police would have you believe their presence would have stopped the violence, data and research have proven time and time again that police do not make communities safer.
Danielle Sered, author and leader in researching true solutions to violence, sums it up when she says: “Safety is not produced primarily by force. Safety is produced by resources, by connection, by equity, and by reciprocal accountability among neighbors.” As she sees it, the vision of a society that does not rely on policing or on prisons as its primary response to harm is not mostly a vision of less, but a vision of more. It is a vision where the space freed up by the staged withdrawal of the criminal legal system is filled instead with what has been available all along but rarely invested in.
In Sered’s view, “This vision of safety, to be fully realized, includes and requires the redistribution of resources from the criminal penal methods to more productive, reliable measures of producing safety: investments in health care, in education, in housing, in living wages, in violence interrupters and intergenerational interventions that draw on the moral authority of those most respected by their neighbors, in conflict resolution and restorative and transformative justice, and in a social service infrastructure and safety net that in time will render enforcement not just less dominant, but obsolete.”
We need to create stronger communities and show up collectively for our young people rather than continue to rely on weaponized responses to violence. Police do not create trusting, cohesive environments—social workers do, community organizers do, youth allies do, caring teachers do.
Let’s keep focused on true solutions to violence and avoid knee-jerk responses to bring in more armed police to our schools.
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