High school students and activists in Phoenix are fighting back against the presence of school resource officers (SROs). They argue that their presence doesn’t offer any kind of safety or improve education, but does strengthen the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipelines. The 15 students, all from the Phoenix Union High School District, launched a #CopsOuttaCampus hashtag to support their cause, according to USA Today. Puente Arizona is a local immigrants-rights organization that helped the students organize an even this past Thursday where they expressed their concerns.
“The money spent on SROs could be better spent on resources for students because a police officer is definitely not going to help me better myself as a person and it’s not going to help me in my education,” said North High School student Rosaly Hernandez.
The students cited instances where officers ask for documentation on the spot. The fear of this leading to deportation is a primary reason the group wants SROs removed.
“Safety to me is walking into my campus, not being watched by a police officer waiting for me to make a mistake,” said Central High School student Michelle Ruiz. “School policies weren’t made for us, the policies were made to get us in trouble for everything.”
The group planned to speak before the PUHSD Governing Board on Thursday about removing SROs from all 17 high schools in the area. Instead, they were sent a statement:
“No decisions on our SRO program will be made this evening at our Board meeting. We continue to work closely with our internal and external stakeholders to assess this and other important programs to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our students, staff, and community.”
A portion of the growing sense of caution was understandably attributed to President Donald Trump and his mission to paint immigrants as “bad hombres” who intend to live up to every negative stereotype about undocumented citizens.