Black Parkland Students Fear Concerns Over Increasing Police Presence Will Go Unheard

I initially hesitated on writing this piece because it hits very close to home for me as a local, a woman of color, and a person who lost someone I knew in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. This is an uncomfortable conversation that has been happening behind-the-scenes since I was in high school almost two decades ago. I say that so readers understand these students concerns are nothing new. They are the same concerns we devoted entire high school panels and meetings and clubs to tackling. 

These are old concerns brought up again by a horrendous tragedy. It’s important for readers to fully understand that as they decide their views on these children who are speaking up. 

A small group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students recently called a press conference to talk about their concerns over how the school has handled the wake of the tragedy — namely by increasing police presence. These students of color want the world outside of their school fence to know that not everyone feels safer with more officers around. The officers in this predominantly white, predominantly wealthy area have had a reputation for treating people of color more harshly than others. This reputation was well-known, even in the late ’90s when I was in high school.

Students want to know if anything is being done to ensure that the few students of color do not become targets — intentionally or otherwise — for these officers. They want to feel just as safe at school as their white peers, and rightfully so. These students acknowledge and admit that something must change, but they want to know: If more officers at school is a must, will there be extra training? Will there be measures to ensure equal protection? What will be done to keep “profiling” to a minimum?

The students called for a press conference, something normally highly attended, but once media outlets realized which Stoneman Douglas students wanted to speak, only eight outlets showed up. And unfortunately, almost all of them were small local outlets that will not offer enough of a platform to help their voices become a part of the larger Stoneman Douglas conversation. 

One South Florida writer took the students’ concerns to Twitter to help amplify their voices:

Twitter quickly took this very difficult conversation and ran with it:

People gave lots of reasons not to listen, like “now isn’t the right time” or “the students weren’t polite in delivering their message.” 

But the conversation also included hope and pride:

It’s my hope that , eventually, this won’t have to be a talking point anymore because the root issues will have been dealt with. Until then, it’s important that we speak and that we listen. You can read more here.

H/T: Twitter