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Students of Color Push Back On Calls For Police In Schools

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) After the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, schools around the country pledged to boost security measures and increased the presence of law enforcement on campus — partly to reassure parents and students.

But police inside schools can make some students more uneasy, not less. Especially for Black students and other students of color, their personal experiences with policing can leave them feeling unsafe and alienated from school when they see officers on campus.

High school senior Malika Mobley has seen three different school resource officers patrolling the campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. Once on the way home from school, Mobley saw officers detain a visibly distraught classmate and push the student into the back of a police vehicle.

“They were crying, ‘Why are you doing this to me? I didn’t do anything,’” said Mobley, co-president of Wake County Black Student Coalition. “I was just forced to stand there and couldn’t do anything.”

Since 2020, the student group has advocated for eliminating police officers from school buildings in favor of investing in counselors and support staff for students.

“We don’t see police presence as part of the solution,” Mobley said. “If you really think about why police don’t make us safer, you can draw connections to all types of tragedies that impact the most marginalized among us.”

Police officers have a regular presence at schools across the country in recent decades, often in the form of school resource officers, who are tasked with building relationships with young people to promote trust of law enforcement, providing security, and enforcing laws. Critics say having armed police on campus often results in Black students being disproportionately arrested and punished, leading to what they call the school-to-prison pipeline.

Researchers have found that Black students report feeling less safe around police officers than their white peers and that officers in predominantly Black school districts were more likely to view students themselves to be threats.

Black students and other students of color also are disproportionately likely to have negative interactions with police in schools, ranging from referrals to law enforcement to being arrested or restrained, said Katherine Dunn, director of the Opportunity to Learn program at the Advancement Project. Since 2007, the Advancement Project has documented at least 200 instances of officers at schools assaulting students, she said.

“It shows all the physical harms that young people experience by police,” she said. “It’s also the experience of being degraded and made to feel like a criminal because you have to walk down the hallway to your class with several armed cops, who are not there for your safety, who you see arrest your friends, assault your friends.”

In 2018, after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state Legislature passed laws mandating public schools to have either law enforcement or armed personnel present on campuses.

A study of the law’s impact by F. Chris Curran, a University of Florida professor, found the expanded police presence was followed by an increase in school arrests and the number of reported behavioral incidents. He said there are many factors to consider in deciding the role police play in schools.

“I’d like to see that conversation include thoughtful considerations of potential benefits, decreasing certain kinds of behaviors, but also the potential unintended consequences, if that’s increasing the likelihood students are arrested or potentially increasing racial disparities in discipline and arrest rates,” Curran said.

While there are examples of school resource officers who have intervened in incidents of gun violence, Curran said, the presence of law enforcement does not always guarantee that shootings or other violence won’t occur, or that the officer would be immediately effective at stopping the perpetrator and minimizing casualties.

In a statement issued this week on best practices for school security in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting, the National Association of School Resource Officers emphasized the importance of having “a carefully selected, specifically trained SRO on its campus whenever school is in session.”

The nonprofit group has rejected criticism that officers contribute to a school-to-prison pipeline. Officers who follow its best practices, it says, do not arrest students for disciplinary issues that would be handled ordinarily by educators.

As elsewhere around the country last week, the police presence was increased outside schools across North Carolina to provide reassurance to families in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas shooting.

Wake County schools have 75 school resource officers, drawn from several local law enforcement agencies.

The Wake County Black Student Coalition’s campaign to remove the officers stemmed partly from student accounts of bad experiences with officers, including a 2017 incident where a school resource officer was filmed picking up a Black girl and slamming her to the ground, said Chalina Morgan-Lopez, a high school senior who is co-president of the student group.

“I think it’s a reasonable response to want more officers in schools, especially from people who genuinely do feel protected by law enforcement, even though that’s not my lived experience,” Morgan-Lopez said. “But I think people need to take into account … that officers do in fact do more harm than they do good.”

Last summer the school system made several changes to its school resource officer program, including a new process for fielding grievances involving officers and adjustments to training to prepare them better for the school environment, said Lisa Luten, a spokesperson for the school system. The review was based on community feedback the district sought in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Luten said.

“This is not a new conversation for us,” she said. “That certainly brought it back to light.”

By ANNIE MA/Associated Press

Ma, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, writes about education and equity for AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter:


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YEAR OF THE HURRICANE: 2017 Was A Whopper The Likes Of Which We’ve Never Seen Before, It Knocked Our Socks Off And Left Us A Little Wet

YEAR OF THE HURRICANE: 2017 Was A Whopper The Likes Of Which We've Never Seen Before, It Knocked Our Socks Off And Left Us A Little Wet

CHRISTIANSTED — We certainly aren’t going out on a limb to call the Year 2017 the Year of the Hurricane.

Not when you live here.

Two Category 5 storms smacked down St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix within the space of 13 days.

The Virgin Islands had gone years without multiple major storms, but 2017 will certainly stand out in local and U.S. history  for refocusing attention on the danger of hurricanes, said John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist and a professor of meteorology at Texas A&M University.

A single season of bad storms “doesn’t add much to the already existing evidence” that global warming will lead to more extreme weather, Nielsen-Gammon said, but it highlights that coastal cities need to be ready. “This will stop people from claiming that hurricanes are not a potential problem.”

Hurricane Harvey swept through the Caribbean and deluged the Houston area from Aug. 17 to Sept. 1 with record rainfall of more than 50 inches. It caused the deaths, directly and indirectly, of 84 people in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hurricane Irma hit regional islands, including Puerto Rico and Cuba, then swept into Florida. The storm, which struck the Virgin Islands on Sept. 6 and then the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, caused 95 deaths in America, NOAA said.

At one point, 62 percent of Florida lacked power. The outages shut businesses and endangered lives—at least eight patients died after air conditioning went out at a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home. About 40 percent of the territory still does not have electricity, it Puerto Rico the number is comparable.

Right on Irma’s heels came Hurricane Maria, slamming first St. Croix on Sept. 19-20 and then Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 with the strongest winds there in nearly a century.

Puerto Rico authorities said 64 people were killed, though others said the toll was much higher. In the Virgin Islands six people died. The two islands’ infrastructures were devastated and nearly all of the commonwealth and Big Island were without power weeks after the storm.

NOAA hasn’t estimated the total cost of the three storms, but it is expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

Sexual Misconduct Rocks Media, Politics

YEAR OF THE HURRICANE: 2017 Was A Whopper The Likes Of Which We've Never Seen Before, It Knocked Our Socks Off And Left Us A Little Wet

This was the year workplace tensions over sexual misbehavior surged into the open, toppling one powerful man after another.

The most dramatic set of events was what already has been dubbed the Weinstein effect: A growing tide of women has been emboldened to go public with allegations of sexism, harassment and worse at the hands of high-profile men in entertainment, media and politics. The dam broke in October after dozens of women, including celebrities, accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.

In the months since, millions of working women have shared their own stories of assault or harassment via the social-media movement #metoo, as companies reaffirmed zero-tolerance policies.

Unlike previous national conversations about workplace sexism—as when Anita Hill testified in 1991 that then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas harassed her while her boss—the consequences this time have been swift and decisive. Mr. Weinstein, who denied the allegations of nonconsensual sex, is only one of a number of accused men who have lost their jobs.

In media, TV hosts Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were fired over sexual misconduct allegations. Mr. Rose and Mr. Lauer apologized, though both disputed some of the claims. Mr. O’Reilly called the claims unfounded and said he paid settlements only to spare his family the negative publicity of lawsuits. Comedian Louis C.K. said the claims he faced were true.

In politics, some GOP leaders disowned Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after allegations, which he denied, that he preyed on teenage girls while in his 30s. But President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee backed his candidacy. On Tuesday, Moore lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.) resigned two weeks after acknowledging a settlement with a former employee, but denied he sexually harassed her. Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) said he would resign following calls from party colleagues to step down over sexual misconduct allegations. And Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.) said he would resign after two former aides reported he asked staff members to be surrogates for his child.

The so-called Weinstein effect didn’t happen in a vacuum. It was preceded by months of revelations laying bare tensions over other gender imbalances at work, from pay and promotions to power, particularly in Silicon Valley, where the work-hard, play-hard culture of many startups has collided with a persistent dearth of women in tech.

Shootings Stun Las Vegas and a Tiny Texas Town

YEAR OF THE HURRICANE: 2017 Was A Whopper The Likes Of Which We've Never Seen Before, It Knocked Our Socks Off And Left Us A Little Wet

The country was shaken as two mass shootings came in quick succession this fall.

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant, killed 58 people attending a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. The Oct. attack ranks as the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. Five weeks later, Devin Kelley, 26, killed 26 people—including a pregnant mother and a toddler—at a small church in the rural Texas town of Sutherland Springs, marking the fifth deadliest such attack.

Mass shootings continue to make up a small percentage of all gun deaths in America. Of the 14,088 killings so far this year, 417 came in incidents where four or more people, excluding the shooter, were injured or killed, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group.

But the number of people killed or injured in mass incidents in 2017 is higher than in the three previous years, the group’s data show. There is no general agreement on the definition of a mass shooting, so tallies often differ between researchers.

YEAR OF THE HURRICANE: 2017 Was A Whopper The Likes Of Which We've Never Seen Before, It Knocked Our Socks Off And Left Us A Little Wet

A white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that featured a nighttime parade of torch-bearing participants turned deadly Aug. 12 when a car slammed into a group opposing the rally, killing a woman and injuring 19. The scheduled removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee set off the initial demonstrations.

Four college basketball assistant coaches and six other people were arrested in September as part of an investigation into corruption in the sport. Federal charges allege a scheme in which agents, financial advisers and sports-apparel executives bribed coaches to direct players to them.

YEAR OF THE HURRICANE: 2017 Was A Whopper The Likes Of Which We've Never Seen Before, It Knocked Our Socks Off And Left Us A Little Wet

A total eclipse of the sun crossed the U.S. from coast to coast for the first time since 1918. Millions of people looked skyward Aug. 21, using special protective glasses, as the moon obscured the sun for several minutes.

The opioid epidemic prompted numerous states and counties to sue drug makers. The suits allege the companies used deceptive marketing practices to push sales of the painkillers.

Amazon set off a scramble among cities when it announced in September it would solicit proposals to locate a second headquarters in North America. The site is expected to house up to 50,000 workers and cost over $5 billion.

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MAPP THE JINX! While The Virgin Islands Remains Without WAPA Power, The United States Is Seething At the Territory For The Governor’s Intemperate Comments: Hurricanes Marilyn And Irma Happened On Mapp’s Watch

MAPP THE JINX! While The Virgin Islands Remains Without WAPA Power, The United States Is Seething At the Territory For The Governor's Intemperate Comments: Hurricanes Marilyn And Irma Happened On Mapp's Watch

COMPLACENT AND PHAT: But what will Gov. Kenneth Ezra Mapp do now that his base of operations, the Ritz Carlton Hotel in St. Thomas, was shut down by the forces of Hurricane Irma?

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — “Hurricane Mapp” might be worse than Hurricanes Marilyn and Irma combined … now that the erstwhile New York-born governor has incurred the wrath of the NRA for recent comments.

Because when Gov. Kenneth Mapp ordered the Virgin Islands National Guard (VING) … in its effete vigor … to seize all guns, ammunition and other weapons from American citizens as the territory prepared for Hurricane Irma to make landfall … he made United States history in a way the high school graduate would probably now like to forget.

Mapp, who ran successfully as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor with Gov. Roy L. Schneider in 1994, still caucuses with Republicans in the U.S. Congress such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, has now presided over the two worst disasters ever to strike St. Thomas — Hurricane Marilyn on Oct. 15, 1995 and Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6, 2017.

The portly governor signed an executive order last Tuesday instructing Adjutant General Deborah Howell “to take whatever actions she considers necessary” to maintain public order, The Times-Picayune reported.

The order, obtained by The Daily Caller, states that Howell is “authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property that may be required by the military forces for the performance of this emergency mission.”

The National Rifle Association announced its “strong opposition” to Mapp’s order in a press release last Tuesday.

“People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said. “This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.”

In 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin signed a similar order allowing seizure of guns, assault rifles and other weapons, ahead of a forced evacuation from those still living in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The NRA filed a lawsuit after Katrina claiming New Orleans violated gun owners’ constitutional right to bear arms and left them “at the mercy of roving gangs, home invaders, and other criminals” after the hurricane.

Congress later passed the 2006 Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act, which was meant to prohibit future confiscation of weapons during an emergency.

“When 911 is non-existent and law enforcement personnel are overwhelmed with search-and-rescue missions and other emergency duties, law-abiding American citizens must be able to protect their families and loved ones,” Cox continued. “The NRA is prepared to pursue legal action to halt Gov. Mapp’s dangerous and unconstitutional order.”

A state of emergency has been declared in the Virgin Islands, where winds of 40 to 50 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph and 4 to 10 inches of rain are expected from now-Category 5 Hurricane Irma.