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Gwen’s Girls and the Black Girls Equity Alliance stand in solidarity with those who are protesting and demanding justice for the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We also remember the many Black men and women who died as a result of police brutality, which is rooted in racism. Black Lives Matter is more than a hashtag. Black Lives Matter is a FACT. We must stand united, demand justice, and change in the systems that historically oppressed Black people.
As the call for reform and defunding of police departments grows, we must also demand the removal of police from Pittsburgh and Allegheny County schools. Research shows increased police presence in schools leads to increased disciplinary actions. Punitive punishments rather than restorative responses are often utilized in schools, and as a result, Black students are disproportionately disciplined, suspended, or referred to the juvenile justice system. We must abolish practices that contribute to the surveillance, militarization, and criminalization of schools.
For more than two years, members of the Black Girls Equity Alliance (BGEA) Juvenile Justice workgroup examined the data and met with law enforcement and school administrators to gain a greater understanding of the high, disproportionate rate of referrals of Black girls. For a complete picture, we studied gender, race, and reported disabilities. The findings were alarming.
In 2019, two-thirds of all arrests of Black girls in Pittsburgh were made by Pittsburgh Public Schools police. A significant proportion of all referrals of Black youth to juvenile justice in Allegheny County – 32% of Black girls and 19% of Black boys – came from Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) police.
These totals represent the entire county. It’s astonishing, since less than half of Black youth live in the City of Pittsburgh, and not all attend PPS. It is time to shut down the school-to-prison pipeline.
This data is just a glimpse of the problem. We’ll share additional details and ways to get involved in seeking solutions. Over the next few months, we will host a series of webinars to highlight the inequities that impact Black girls (see flyer below). On June 18th, during the first webinar, “What Does Black Lives Matter Mean In Schools,” panelists will share what we know about the arrest and referral rates of PPS students. They’ll explore ways for PPS to lower these rates, such as alternatives to school policing that uplift the need for more significant mental health support and social services. Additionally, we will share recommendations for the 2020-2021 Code of Conduct and the MOU between PPS and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Learn more here.
JOIN US Thursday, June 18th, 2020 from 3p-p5 via ZOOM. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.