On July 17, 2014 Eric Garner was held in a chokehold by an NYPD officer until motionless. Eric Garner died shortly after being taken away in an ambulance. The incident was captured on film, and Garner’s death was declared homicide by the medical examiner.
The police officer responsible for Eric Garner’s death was not indicted. Since the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict, thousands upon thousands have marched, sat-in, blocked traffic and shut down bridges demanding justice for the death of Eric Garner and his family.
MORE, the social justice caucus of the UFT, stands with the Garner family and all the thousands calling for justice. We encourage New York City Educators to organize their coworkers and march on NYC on Dec. 13th to demand an immediate end to police brutality and justice for Eric Garner.
As educators in New York City, we work with and are part of communities that are most affected by racist policing practices in this city. We work everyday with young people that are constantly criminalized, stopped, frisked on their way to and from school and sometimes even arrested inside our school buildings. The lack of even an indictment in the Eric Garner case reflects the deep-seeded discrimination prevalent in the institutions of our justice system. Sadly, these dramatic inequities are also perpetuated in our public schools. In the last decade, Black students, who represent 33% of the student population in NYC, received 53% of suspensions, and were more likely to be suspended for minor misbehavior.i They also received 51% of suspensions for profanity and 57% of suspensions for insubordination.ii Research by the American Psychological Association found that students who are suspended in school are more likely to dropout or graduate late,iii and the likelihood of incarceration increases by more than 50% for students that drop out of high school.iv From the metal detectors that greet them at the door to the suspension policies that govern our discipline codes, the New York City public school system is, for far too many of our young people, a direct line to incarceration. The same system that daily treats students as criminals because of the color of their skin, has led to the death of innocent people like Eric Garner.
We must speak up about what happens inside our schools and in the communities of which we are part. As teachers that serve a student body that is majority students of color v, we must stand up and say that their lives matter. Black lives matter.
For this reason, we will march on Saturday with thousands of others demanding an end to racist police policies that have taken the lives of too many, and wreaked havoc on the lives of too many others. The violence and criminalization at the hands of the NYPD must end today.
There are several ways to get involved this Saturday. Please click links for more information on each event:
Justice For All March in Washington DC
Millions March in New York City (http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/12/09/blacklivesmatter-group-young-black-organizers-calls-march-millions-13th-dec)
Teachers Unite Full Court Press Against School PushOut (http://www.teachersunite.net/content/join-full-court-press-against-schoolpushout)
ii NYCLU. (2011). “Education interrupted: The growing use of suspensions in New York City’s public schools,” pg. 19.
iii Skiba, R., et al (2006). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? A report by the American Psychological Association Task Force, p. 63
iv By The Numbers: Dropping Out of High School. Dropout Nation. Frontline. PBS
- According to NYC DOE Demographic Snapshot data for 2013, Black and Latino students combined make up nearly 70% of the NYC public school system.