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A Year After Teen Mother's Killing, CA School 'Reimagining Safety'

Last year, a school police officer in Long Beach, Ca., tried to intervene in an altercation between teenagers down the street from a high school where he worked. As youths drove off in a car, the officer fired two shots at the vehicle, striking 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez, who was a passenger and unarmed. Eight days later, she was taken off life support and died. She left behind a five-month-old baby, the Guardian reports. The killing caused outrage as another example of unwarranted deadly force by law enforcement. In Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, the tragedy fueled a campaign to transform the way the public school system approaches safety, with calls from some advocates to remove armed officers from campus altogether.

In the year since Rodriguez’s killing, the Long Beach unified school district, which is fifty nine percent Latino and twelve percent Black, has responded with a pledge to “reimagine safety” and has been working directly with advocates pushing for the dismantling of armed security. The presence of armed guards at schools has long been a polarizing topic. Each new school shooting prompts calls from some politicians and parents to expand law enforcement on campuses. Meanwhile, there’s been growing recognition of the disproportionate negative impact of school police forces on students of color, with studies, including a recent one funded by the U.S. Justice Department, suggesting that the presence of armed campus officers is not linked to deterring violence or preventing massacres, but does lead to higher suspension, arrest and expulsion rates, especially for Black youth.


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