“Why Are You Making The Same Mistake?” Make the Road and Rockaway Youth Task Force Ask NYC Schools, Reported by The Observer

Posted on March 12, 2018

Use of Metal Detectors in New York City Schools Under Scrutiny Amid Parkland Shooting

Originally Published in the Observer on March 9, 2018
Written by Madina Toure

The school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which claimed 17 lives last month, has reignited the debate over the use of school safety agents, metal detectors and scanning in New York City’s public schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, convened a town hall on Thursday afternoon that attracted roughly 100 high school students to discuss steps the city can take to ensure safety in schools amid a national debate about gun control. But the bulk of the students who spoke up centered the conversation on issues they see regarding the overuse of metal detectors in schools primarily made up of people of color and mistreatment by school safety agents. Andrea Colon, a senior at Rockaway Park High School who serves as community engagement organizer for the Rockaway Youth Task Force, noted the reaction following the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. “After Columbine, the reaction was not to invest billions of federal and local money in policing students through more police officers and metal detectors,” Colon said. “They received resources such as counseling and mental health support, but what did communities of color get? Metal detectors and school safety officers by NYPD.” Nearly 20 years later, Colon said, research shows cops and metal detectors do not make schools any safer. Black and brown students, she said, make up 90 percent or more of all students getting arrested and receiving summonses. “Why are you making the same mistake—prioritizing police and metal detectors—instead of ensuring we have enough social, emotional and mental health support and resources in our schools?” she asked. Roughly 50 high school students protested outside the town hall against the use of metal detectors. Darian Agostini, 23, a youth organizer for Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy group, told Observer he helped coordinate some students to ask questions at the town hall. “We wanted to make sure that young people’s voices were heard on the outside and that the mayor wasn’t going to be able to ignore that call for removing police officers, removing metal detectors which is the integral part of creating safety in our schools,” Agostini said.

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