CHICAGO — Demand continues to grow to remove police officers from Chicago Public Schools as activists call on city leaders to use that money to fund student services instead.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said CPS won’t cut ties with the city’s police department.
Still, voices are growing louder as students come together demanding change.
“Schools should not feel like a jail schools should not feel like a prison,” Meyiya Coleman, a CPS alum, said.
A group of about 50 students, parents and politicians rallied outside Chicago Public Schools Tuesday morning, saying the classroom is no place for police officers.
“We do not need police in our schools we need social workers and resources that would help students,” Daniel Davenport, a CPS student, said.
Just last year, the city spent about $33 million to fund officers in CPS schools.
Protesters demand that money be used for what they call desperately needed student services.
“We need CPS to invest that money in a program where teachers, coaches, crossing guards, parent volunteers can be trained by mental health professionals have to be mentors to our students so they have the right support systems that they need,” Kaleb, a CPS student, said.
Some local politicians support students when they say they don’t feel safe with police in school.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward) said if they need police presence, they’ll call 911.
“Historically, police were called into schools to protect from outside sources but what has become now police are now criminalizing kids in schools they are now serving,” Sawyer said.
The rally comes as activists across the country call for defunding police departments.
Lightfoot said she understands the community’s concern, but doesn’t support pulling police out of schools.
“I don’t think it’s an either or proposition as we outlined today, the investments that we are committed to making in violence reduction in mental health in affordable housing in workforce development we need to make those investments period,” Lightfoot said.
The Chicago Teacher’s Union also supports the movement.
Other cities including Portland and Minneapolis have reduced funding or vowed to removed police from schools in recent days.