California’s largest public school system voted Tuesday to cut a third of police officer positions and curtail the police powers of remaining officers.
The school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District approved a plan to eliminate 133 police positions following outcry against police during the George Floyd riots last summer. The school board also banned the use of pepper spray on students and took $25 million out of the police budget to go toward school programs for black students, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We would not be at this point, though it is delayed admittedly, without the community’s leadership,” school board President Kelly Gonez said. “I’m glad that the plan’s development also provided an opportunity for more engagement with our students, families and the broader community.”
Activists have led a yearlong campaign pushing the school board to eliminate its police force entirely. Those efforts gained momentum following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May. The trial over his death is expected to start next month as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is tried on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In July, the school board voted to cut the district’s 400-man police force by 35%, prompting the resignation of the police chief and 20 officers. Leslie Ramirez then immediately took over as interim chief of the Los Angeles School Police, and her position was made permanent in December. Ramirez noted that the school police had already taken steps to cut back police presence on campus and that the new plan approved by the board has a number of drawbacks.
The plan approved Tuesday by the board contains “potential liabilities, lacks clarity, and will result in unintended consequences impacting the safety of students and staff,” Ramirez said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
The Los Angeles Unified School District commissioned a survey that found that the majority of students and parents have a positive view of campus police. As the Los Angeles Times reports:
But when broken down by demographics, 35% of Black students agreed with that sentiment, compared with 56% of Asian American and Pacific Islander students, 54% of Latino students and 49% of white students.
A similar pattern occurred with parents, in which about 50% of Black parents agreed that school police made campuses safe, compared with 72% of Asian American and Pacific Islander parents, 67% of Latino parents and 54% of white parents.
The push to defund police department gained traction last year as mass protests and riots broke out across the United States, costing insurance companies alone potentially billions of dollars in payouts to individuals and businesses owners whose property was damaged in the chaos. As The Daily Wire reported:
Floyd’s death on Memorial Day weekend sparked nationwide anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests, which agitators, bent on violence, used as cover to wreak havoc in many of America’s major cities. The resulting damage is already costing cities like Minneapolis in the hundreds of millions of dollars, per Minneapolis Business Journal, and now insurance companies report they could be on the hook for billions more.
Axios reports Wednesday that insurance companies could pay up to $2 billion to cover damages, rendering the Floyd riots the single largest insurance event in history, utterly dwarfing the next highest payout event, the Rodney King riots, which cost about $1.4 billion in today’s dollars, and mid-century race riots in Los Angeles, California, and Detroit, Michigan, which cost around $350 million each.
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