Due to the work of local student activists, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to cut the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) police force budget by 35%. Following the decision, the chief of L.A. School Police Department (LASPD), Todd Chamberlain, resigned.
This action comes after a month of protests across the country. Sparked by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahumaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and Elijah McClain, the demonstrators are protesting police violence and systemic racism in our country.
One of the biggest demands made by activists is to defund the police and remove them from schools. Organizations like Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and Students Deserve have long been working against the presence of police in L.A. schools. Recently, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) – the union that represents LAUSD teachers, voted to completely remove the LASPD and reinvest the money into counseling and mental health resources.
The Los Angeles Board of Education’s vote Tuesday came after a 13-hour long meeting on the issue. The cut won 4-3, and was a compromise between board members Garcia and Goldberg’s proposals. The board action will result in a $25 million reduction from the LASPD budget. The money will instead be specifically allocated to initiatives designed to support Black students and reimagine campus safety. Additionally, the action will reduce the force by 65 officers and require officers to give up their uniforms and patrol off-campus.
LAUSD is not the only school district to diminish the presence of police in schools. Minneapolis, MS and Portland, OR have both moved to end school contracts with police departments, and activists in Chicago, IL and New York, NY are calling on their mayors to do the same.
The move is especially monumental, however, given the scope of the decision. The LASPD is the largest school police force in the nation, and, according to Students Deserve, the $25 million cut is the largest divestment from school police in the nation.
Students Deserve organizer Mya Edwards states: “This decision is a huge step that the LAUSD School Board is taking to cut the school police department and fund Black futures.”
But the fight is not over, says Black Lives Matter L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah. “A powerful coalition has formed and will not stop until we rid police from schools and invest in visions of safety that are grounded in meeting student needs.”
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 07/02, ABC7 07/02, CBS Los Angeles 07/02, LAist 07/02