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  • The Narrative Project

Community First Coalition Launches Statewide “Care Not Cops” Campaign to Remove Police from Schools


September 20, 2021


Edwin Stubbs 973.223.0525


Hartford, CT - The Community First Coalition, a newly formed coalition of grassroots and youth-led organizations fighting to reimagine public safety without police or policing in our communities, launched its inaugural “Care Not Cops” campaign near the state Capitol in Hartford on Saturday. Organizers from coalition groups CT Justice Alliance (CTJA), CT Students for a Dream (C4D), Hearing Youth Voices (HYV), Radical Advocates for Cross-Cultural Education (RACCE), and Students for Educational Justice (SEJ) called for investment and policies to center community and care in Connecticut’s education system over punitive practices, and for the state’s schools to reduce their reliance on school resource officers and police. You can view the full event here. “The criminalization of students must come to an abrupt end,” said Michaela Barratt, RACCE Youth Organizer. “It is time to defund policing in our schools and invest in educational experiences that advance racial justice and incubates equitable learning environments for all students, especially Black and Brown students.” “They say SROs are for safety, but studies have shown that they do not measurably increase safety in schools,” said Iliana Pujols, CT Justice Alliance Policy Director. “Having police present in schools makes it easier for school staff to rely on police to manage all crisis situations, thus sustaining the school to prison pipeline open.” Through the “Care Not Cops” campaign, the Community First Coalition is calling for the following:

  • Dissolution Bill that would create a process to replace School Resource Officers with School Resource Counselors (SRC’s)

  • Redefining SRO’s to include security officers and other non-police actors

  • Accountability and Transparency Legislation for police-led interactions in schools

  • Decriminalizing Truancy and Chronic Absenteeism

Connecticut tracked over 20,000 suspensions from 2019-2020 leading into a Global Pandemic that only deepened the gap and the needs of BIPOC people," said Eric Domingues, Hearing Youth Voices Senior Intern. “We believe that even the presence of police in our school buildings is a perpetuation of the school to prison pipeline. We need to reconstruct the environment of school altogether. Policing and incarceration of our young people will no longer be tolerated.” During the conference, which was moved to the Legislative Office Building out of concern for attendees due to an anti-mask protest at the Capitol, organizers also focused on the unique circumstances and additional stressors undocumented students face when interacting with SROs and police. “Undocumented students can’t have a regular teenage life,” Perla Vanessa Cardoso, CT Students for a Dream Organizer. “They can’t go out and do stuff that other teenagers get to do. If they get in any type of trouble, it can affect them in the long run when they want to apply for citizenship. It’s important that we also talk about the school to deportation pipeline. A lot of undocumented folks, when they come to the U.S., they know not to talk to cops.'' The coalition recently began circulating a petition calling on CT state legislators and municipal leaders to support the demands of the “Care Not Cops” campaign. The campaign, which is based on the recently proposed Federal Counseling, not Criminalization in Schools Act and state-based research on the impact of SROs in schools from Connecticut Voices for Children, aims to bring attention, awareness, and accuracy to the problem of policing, surveillance, and racist outcomes resulting from police in schools across Connecticut.

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About The Community First Coalition (CFC) The CFC is a coalition of grassroots, youth-led, and justice-centered organizations fighting to reimagine public safety without police or policing in our communities. Community First Coalition Organizations: Blue Hills Civic Association, Citywide Youth Coalition, CT BBSU, CT Justice Alliance, CT Students for A Dream, Connecticut Voices for Children, Hearing Youth Voices, Middletown Racial Justice Coalition, New Britain Racial Justice Coalition, R.A.C.C.E., Students for Educational Justice,

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