Hundreds of students rally at City Hall for police-free schools

Angelique Molina-Mangaroo
Police Free Schools Rally at City Hall

Hundreds of students rally at City Hall for police-free schools

Demonstrators called on New York City Mayor Eric Adams and schools Chancellor David Banks to divert school policing investments to other resources in the city’s upcoming budget.
April 21, 2022

Hundreds of students, parents and teachers, alongside members of the City Council, gathered outside of New York City Hall Wednesday to call on Mayor Eric Adams and schools Chancellor David Banks to divest from school policing. 

The rally was led by the Urban Youth Collaborative, a student-led coalition fighting to end the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline.” Demonstrators said they want the city to ensure a more supportive learning environment for students by investing in more school counselors, social workers, and mental health support, among other resources. 

“More counselors, no cops! Police in schools have got to stop!” students chanted while holding signs that proclaimed, “Students can’t read if students can’t breathe.” The rally came as Adams was calling for new surveillance technology to replace traditional metal detectors in schools

The collaborative is participating in the Dignity in School Campaign, a national effort pushing for improved social and health supports in schools in what it describes on its website as an alternative to “a culture of zero-tolerance, punishment, criminalization and the dismantling of public schools, and fight racism and all forms of oppression.” 

School policing has long been a flashpoint for parents, educators and city officials. While there has been a recent rise in weapons seizures from students, demonstrators at the rally said they believed that more policing and surveillance technology will only result in the targeting and criminalization of Black and brown youth even more.

Council Members Tiffany Caban, Sandy Nurse, Chi Osse, Alexa Aviles,Kristin Richardson Jordan, and Shanana Hanif also joined the rally in support of police free schools.

“A month into high school, I had to wait for 30 minutes to be able to pass through metal detectors…” said Caroline Ramirez, a 9th-grade student from Staten Island. “Once I was able to get through the door, police started yelling at me and my friends while we were getting our health screenings and IDs out. By the time I was able to go into the school, I already missed my first-period class and was marked absent … We want restorative justice, coordinators, social workers and mental health support in our schools to help us, not police that harm us.”

Caban, who represents the 22nd Council district in Queens, which includes Rikers Island, called for breaking the school-to-prison pipeline. “What is school for? What does school need to provide you with so that you all can be the students for our future? That’s critical thinking, that’s conflict resolution skills and restorative justice, that’s an appreciation for the arts, it’s an understanding of evidence, data and reason, and the ability to honor each and every individual's identity while coming together to fight for a common purpose. That’s what I think school is for,” she insisted. 

Angelique Molina-Mangaroo
previously founded and was executive director of The Wealthy Youth Project, a financial literacy organization interested in addressing issues faced by women and girls of color. She also was a reporter for the Hunts Point Express in the Bronx, served as a Young Women’s Advisory Council Member on the New York City Council, and has worked with several nonprofit organizations, among them Planned Parenthood of New York City and the Legal Aid Society.