Health Workers' Letter in Support of the George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department
**Please add your signature by filling out the form below by 5 pm PT on Tuesday, June 23**
Dear Superintendent Johnson-Trammel and OUSD School Board Directors,
We are researchers, practitioners, academics, and organizers who work in the field of public health and clinical medicine. A great deal of work in our field documents, treats, and seeks to intervene on the adverse health effects associated with deploying law enforcement in schools. It is on this evidence that we write to you in support of the George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department.
We know that police violence is a critical public health issue . We know that among young people, experiencing or witnessing police violence, including stops, searches, and surveillance, can result in symptoms of anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder , subsequent substance abuse , sleep deprivation , suicidal behavior , injury , and death . We know that adverse mental health outcomes are exacerbated for young people who are stopped by law enforcement in their school settings specifically, as compared to in other locations . We know that exposure to policing in childhood and adolescence may have adverse health implications that reach into adulthood [9, 10]. We know that, despite being deployed in the name of school safety, school policing has not actually been shown to improve safety . We know that policing does, however, criminalize young people in their schools, fueling school-to-confinement pathways (e.g., incarceration, sex trafficking) . We know that Black and Brown students, disabled students, and economically disenfranchised students are disproportionately targeted by systems of policing in their schools [13, 14]. We know that in OUSD specifically, this anti-Blackness presents as Black students comprising 26% of total enrollments and yet 73% of school-based arrests [15, 16]. We know this contributes to the inequities in health outcomes that we dedicate each of our days to disrupting. We know enough to act; and if we value the health and well-being of our young people, we must act.
To continue to invest millions of dollars in the Oakland Schools Police Department is not only a statement of commitment to harming the physical and mental well-being of our students, it is a statement of commitment against all available evidence. If we value the health and well-being of our young people, we must disrupt the systems that harm them. We must imagine and create schools that not only value, but invest in student health and well-being; and through that, transform the institutions entrusted with teaching our young people into spaces truly dedicated to equitable access to education.
In the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department, and in response to the local, national, and international demands for justice by ending anti-Black racism and policing practices, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Directors Shanthi Gonzales and Roseann Torres have introduced the George Floyd Resolution calling for police-free schools in the Oakland Unified School District. We urge every School Board Member to stand with Black Organizing Project (BOP) and immediately vote yes on this unprecedented and pathbreaking resolution to eliminate Oakland’s School Police Department. We urge your leadership by:
● Supporting the resolution as it currently stands
● Supporting police free schools
● No hybrid models or substitutes for OSPD
We truly believe your vote in support of BOP’s B.O.S.S. and dismantling OSPD is urgent and will position Oakland, the District, and the community for a monumental victory that will be felt and replicated across the country. In doing so, you will support a movement against an increasingly toxic climate--inside and outside the classroom--that pushes Black families out of schools and makes it impossible for them to remain in their communities within increased housing costs and gentrification development schemes. And you will join a growing list of school districts—from Toronto to Minneapolis to Portland and Pomona—that are eliminating school police in order to invest in student well-being, safety, and equity.
[list of signatories]
1. Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue. Policy Number: 201811. 2018 November 13; Available from:
2. Geller, A., Policing America's Children: Police Contact and Consequences Among Teens in Fragile Families. 2017.
3. Leventhal, A.M., et al., Association of reported concern about increasing societal discrimination with adverse behavioral health outcomes in late adolescence. JAMA pediatrics, 2018. 172(10): p. 924-933.
4. Jackson, D.B., et al., Police stops and sleep behaviors among at-risk youth. Sleep Health, 2020.
5. DeVylder, J.E., et al., Elevated prevalence of suicide attempts among victims of police violence in the USA. Journal of urban health, 2017. 94(5): p. 629-636.
6. Feldman, J.M., et al., Temporal trends and racial/ethnic inequalities for legal intervention injuries treated in emergency departments: US men and women age 15–34, 2001–2014. Journal of urban health, 2016. 93(5): p. 797-807.
7. Bui, A.L., M.M. Coates, and E.C. Matthay, Years of life lost due to encounters with law enforcement in the USA, 2015–2016. J Epidemiol Community Health, 2018: p. jech-2017-210059.
8. Jackson, D.B., et al., Police stops among at-risk youth: Repercussions for mental health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2019. 65(5): p. 627-632.
9. Boyd, R.W., A.M. Ellison, and I.B. Horn, Police, equity, and child health. Pediatrics, 2016. 137(3).
10. Duarte, C.d.P., L. Salas-Hernández, and J.S. Griffin, Policy Determinants of Inequitable Exposure to the Criminal Legal System and Their Health Consequences Among Young People. American Journal of Public Health, 2020. 110(S1): p. S43-S49.
11. Corley, C. Do police officers in schools really make them safer? All Things Considered 2018; Available from:
12. Morris, M., Pushout: The criminalization of Black girls in schools. 2016: New Press, The.
13. Data Snapshot: School Discipline. Civil Rights Data Collection 2014 [cited 2020 June 18]; Available from:
14. Whitaker, A., et al. Cops and no counselors: How the lack of school mental health staff is harming students. 2019; Available from:
15. The People’s Plan for Police Free-Schools. 2019 [cited 2020 June 18]; Available from:
16. Wun, C., Against captivity: Black girls and school discipline policies in the afterlife of slavery. Educational Policy, 2016. 30(1): p. 171-196.
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