Dear Editor: Thanks to Negassi Tesfamichael for the level of substance in his “Policing Madison Schools” article — it was informative and detailed. One thing I’d appreciate seeing highlighted in the future is the distance between community members’ beliefs around police and policing in the U.S. (historical and current). I think it’s difficult to understand the ERO conversation without this context.
In the communities I’ve belonged to, people believe that police historically and currently are necessary to keeping us (and our belongings) safe and maintaining social order, that they are inherently trustworthy, and that we should socialize children to trust them. This belief is shaped by identity — related experiences (in my communities, whiteness); it is not an objective truth. For many people of color and queer and/or gender-nonconforming people of all ages, the police frequently have been and are a force of brutality and a tool of control and dispossession wielded by the state (a narrative the historical record supports and which extends all the way up to the present). State and federal laws chronicle this — it is not a hyperbolic claim.
We are not debating whether an ERO who has had positive experiences in a high school is a caring enough person to be there. At core, we are fighting about what role police should have in our society, and in proximity to those vulnerable beings we love most — our children. In this context, the call for ending the ERO contract is a necessary call of love and of protection.
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