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“This may be uncomfortable to hear, but white supremacy, anti-Blackness and settler colonialism shape our school systems. Everything from the content of curriculum to systems for disciplining students to the distribution of resources and much more result in a system that seeks to marginalize racialized youth and ultimately disproportionately push them out of schools and into systems of incarceration,” Ather said.
“In impoverished communities of colour, similar to the neighbourhoods surrounding the high school that I went to, schools are often the first interaction Black and brown students have with the criminal justice system. Police intervention at such an impressionable age can often escalate small incidents to violent criminal situations. We want support systems, not fear of incarceration.”
The conversation surrounding the SRO program will continue at Edmonton Public Schools next board meeting, scheduled for Sept. 8, where trustees can once again reconsider suspending the program.
Estabrooks said the community has spoken loud and clear about the program and trustees need to listen to them.
“The decision about this ultimately will be made and I know our community is not going to let this issue go away and so we’re here to serve and to listen to those very important voices,” Estabrooks said.