Marchers want to break school-to-prison pipeline

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ST. LOUIS – A Break the Pipeline protest in downtown St. Louis called for police to be removed from schools and have that money spent on resources like counseling and teacher pay.

Reverend Doctor Dietra Wise Baker from Metropolitan Congregations United led a march with families, who said there is a school-to-prison pipeline in St. Louis, and they want to close it. Metropolitan Congregations United’s Break the Pipeline campaign is starting with getting police officers out of K-12 schools.

They want to start by getting police officers out of K-12 schools.

“When they’re present in the building, we know from the data that kids are more likely to get arrested in our city,” Baker said.

She said black students are six times more likely to get arrested while at school than white students.

Alicia Hernandez, from the Missouri ACLU, holds seminars for students who might walk into class in the morning and into the criminal justice system by the afternoon.

“A lot of times, students and families don’t know what their rights are when interacting or engaging with police in schools. It’s a big gray area, even legally,” Hernandez said. “So, there are lots of ways that injustices and processes can happen that shouldn’t.”

The kids who were out marching left sidewalk art for officers at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters. But, their innocent-looking scribbles were a list of demands.

Baker is working toward change so that things will be different for her 19-month old son when he eventually starts school.

“They can be in an environment where they are disciplined and not penalized. Where their environment is happy,” Baker said. “Where their teachers are cared for and supported. Where they’re paid well, hey!”

The moms, dads, kids, and babies in strollers marched that message from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters to the St. Louis Public School administrative offices.

For more information on Break the Pipeline, click here.

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