From the Schools to the Streets: Teachers for Black Lives

On July 19th, hundreds of educators from around the country, along with community allies, stood in solidarity with members of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers in taking direct action following the unjust killing by police of their colleague and friend Philando Castile. Thirteen days following Castile’s death, educators demanded community safety beyond policing from our schools to the streets. Minneapolis police arrested 21 educators, parents, and clergy during the course of the march. 

So much of this work toward community safety beyond policing starts in the classroom. Educators have been pushing for prioritizing counselors over cops, restorative justice over suspensions and expulsions, meeting the basic needs of our students in full-service community schools, and allowing students and parents to have a say in how the school is run. These methods that prioritize mental health, positive development, and community control can also be a model for what community safety beyond police can look like. 


 “Today we march to remember Philando Castile, our student, our co-worker, our union brother,” said Kimberly Colbert, Secretary of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers. “Mr. Phil, as the students of J. J. Hill Elementary called him, was gunned down and murdered on a routine traffic stop. The killing must stop. But it won’t stop until we get to the root cause of these deaths, a racist system, which not only harms and kills, but which profits from that harm.”


We also wanted to hold the corporations that profit off of the deaths of black people accountable to consumers and the community. The groups called on U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo to stop profiteering from the unjust and violent systems that are taking the lives of people of color. 

“It is time to demand that financial institutions like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo stop profiting off the lives of people of color,” said Michelle Wiese, President of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “Aggressive policing practices have led to lawsuits from victims and their families. When cities cannot afford to pay these lawsuits, it is the banks that cover the bonds used to pay victims. Wealthy individuals and corporations become investors. Investors who make a profit. Cities pay large fees to the banks that issue the bonds. This process steals money that belongs to our schools and our communities. It is time for this to end - for us to demand that we divest ourselves of these practices, and invest in community led solutions.”


Both banks have long acted in ways that harm our public schools and our communities—from predatory payday lending to direct involvement in the subprime mortgage crisis to failing to pay their fair share of taxes. As a result, they have directly stood in the way of the shared success of our students, our teachers and our families. 


Check out photos and tweets from the action on Twitter at #Teachers4BlackLives and here.

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