Erika Shields, Louisville’s police chief, came to the city after resigning in Atlanta following the killing of Rayshard Brooks, who was accused of pointing a taser — a non-fatal weapon — at police… while also running away. Yes, I raised my eyebrows, too. That’s not why we’re here, though. Shields, who comes to Louisville with a number of Black bodies in her wake, is now suggesting we allow a police force to be installed in our schools, alongside our children.
“Without having dedicated school resource officers trained in identifying gang members, conflict… we’re lacking critical intelligence. There simply has to be the acknowledgement… if we don’t wanna be here again… we can’t sit here with our thumbs up our ass, do nothing different and think we won’t be up at this podium,” Shields said.
This statement by Shields should alarm every parent. Every parent. Shields, like most in law enforcement and many in government, is firmly planted in the idea that to solve the issue of youth violence, the only solution is to profile and send young children to jail right out of the classroom. Police, according to Shields, should be there to spy on and strong-arm young people. There are many reasons this is outrageous and a mess of a suggestion. Shields said the quiet part out loud, and parents of all kids should be at her office door.
All violence has a root cause. All of it. It is rare for violence to occur outside of the boundaries of some very specific root, be that abuse, poverty, substance abuse or something else. What Shields is suggesting is to feed the prison pipeline with our Black children rather than finding real solutions to the reasons these young people find that a gang is the best choice for their lives.
Why do young people seek association with gangs? We all have heard the reasons; they are well researched, documented and widely written about. And yet, we’re still having the same stupid conversations because the people in power find it too expensive or too time consuming to bring solutions to the people who truly need it. It’s easier to demonize and continue a version of the United States that has always enslaved, interred or deported those who challenge white ideals. White supremacy needs you to believe that punitive measures are the only ones that work, and though they don’t point the fingers at Black children, every Black parent and most other parents are aware of what Shields is suggesting.
One thing that Shields said that makes sense is when she questions where these young people are getting the weapons.
Why are guns so easy to get? Most of these young people cannot afford to buy them. All of the weapons are not stolen, though they might be reported stolen to prevent their origin being traced outside of the areas where they are found. There are so many things about this that don’t add up.
If these kids are participating in gang activity, shooting “stolen” weapons and selling drugs that are only obtained through importation, some very simple questions deserve immediate answers.
How are the guns and drugs getting through, and why are kids still joining gangs if the root causes have such obvious remedies?
There are no excuses the people in power can give when the answers are continually ignored, and the deaths of our children are still treated as an impetus to drive the for-profit prison system — or as insignificant collateral damage in the quest to destroy Black communities and buy up the available land for gentrification.
There is much to be said and much that can be read into all of these situations. The bottom line with Shields is that she is very wrong to suggest that police should have a force in schools, and she’s doubly wrong to suggest that the police need to gather “intel” on children. My god, you’d think if intel is necessary, perhaps this is more a job for the CIA, since clearly these are not only troubled children but diabolical super criminals.
It’s exhausting to say the obvious over and over but — fix the system, and we will repair the lives of these children so that they might have a chance to live a quality life.
If the system continues to resist being repaired, perhaps it’s time to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch without the lens of white supremacy that keeps feeding lies and deception to protect itself. Shields plays the white supremacy game that sees “enforcement” as a solution instead of the true obvious solutions, which don’t offer our children as free labor to the prison complex.