United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), Black Lives Matter (BLM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have planned an anti-police demonstration at Los Angeles Trade Tech. UTLA, the union that represents Los Angeles public school teachers, is co-sponsoring the rally on February 24 and calling it “Making Black Lives Matter in Schools.” The groups are mobilizing students by stating that their police officers are racist and disproportionately target students of color, false claims that are not supported by any proof or documentation. The union and the groups co-sponsoring the demonstration ultimately seek to remove all police officers stationed throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second-largest public education system with over 640,000 students.
Flyers have been circulated to encourage students to join the rally, and at the bottom of the announcement it reads, “We have nothing to lose but our chains,” a quote often recited by BLM activists to honor Assata Shakur, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. Shakur escaped prison and currently lives in communist Cuba under political asylum, and her story has been used by activist groups like BLM to protest law enforcement abuses and unfair treatment of minorities.
These expressions of divisiveness are happening more and more frequently. What makes this one different is that it pits union against union and schoolteachers against school police, both of whose goals are the same: to support and encourage kids to learn by providing a safe setting that fosters an environment of respect and trust. There are faces to these 500 school police officers who interact with students daily. Each day, officers have many more positive interactions with students than negative ones. For many of these kids, the interaction with the school police may be the only positive interaction they have with police.
What also makes this different for AAAPO’s PAPBA is the tie to our New Jersey state brother, Werner Foerster, who should rest in peace and whose death was tragic enough without this type of further denigration.
The AAAPO stands firmly with and behind the police officers of the LAUSD in fighting back against this outrageous effort, and encourages the teachers’ union to recalibrate and work together with their school police toward shared goals of prioritizing students’ education by ensuring that they have a safe, secure learning environment.
“To have this happen in our backyard is beyond disappointing,” says Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “LAAPOA is the largest minority-majority police force in the country, and many of our officers have children enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District and charter schools in the Los Angeles area also patrolled by L.A. School Police, so this hits close to home on many fronts. We support the school police, teachers and students — all of them. They should not be fractured by outsiders who do not have their best interests at heart.”
“New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster came from a strong and proud organization, one which I know well,” says Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and co-founder of the AAAPO. “He should be remembered for his commitment to the community and his memory should never be associated with divisiveness, bigotry or any effort that would disparage the role that school police play in supporting youth in America. He deserves more than that.”