Students stand up to racist police terror

After a police attack at Miami Edison Sr. High School that resulted in the arrest of 27 students charged with disturbing a school function, resisting arrest with violence and rioting, the campus erupted in protests on March 3. The protests were in response to the incidents of Feb. 29, when school, city of Miami and Miami-Dade County police brutally beat, tasered and sicced K9 dogs on students protesting police brutality on campus.

The students were waging a peaceful sit-in at their cafeteria in solidarity with Wadson Sagaille, a student who was put in a choke hold by Miami Edison Sr. High School assistant principal, Javier Perez.

They were told to get up and when they didn’t the police stormed in using full force. According to the March 3rd issue of the Miami Herald, students used “yogurt and milk cartons” in an attempt to fend off the police attack.

The school principal called for an open meeting on March 2 at the school. She began the meeting by announcing that students would be heard the next day at a school assembly, but not at the public meeting. In addition, the public was not allowed into the school assembly, a clear attempt to prevent the students from publicly relaying the events of Feb. 29.

Students, however, maintained their protest spirit, chanting until the principal agreed to allow students to speak. While she promised the police would be available to answer questions, neither Chief Darling of Miami-Dade Public Schools or any other police officer answered questions from students, parents or the public.

Student leader Chris Green spoke eloquently about what he witnessed and laid out the student demands, including the arrest of assistant principal Perez for assault on a student; dropping all charges on those arrested; no retaliation against students; and the institution of restorative justice as a problem solving model, instead of arresting more young people in the future.

Green also pointed out the biased media reporting on the story. On March 2, students arrived on time and in full uniform for school, but instead of reporting to school, they gathered at the Range Park across the street. Many students and parents expressed concern that they were to return to the same school and police force responsible for the violence.

Defying charges of apathy and lack of civic involvement, the youth of Edison saw a wrong and organized to stand up for their rights. Instead of talking to the students and working towards a solution, the administration ordered the police to beat and arrest the mostly Black students. These young people are on the front line of a new wave of student activism and their organized and defiant stance led them to discover that their learning institution and the police would not tolerate them exercising their democratic rights.

The students have not backed down despite being arrested, clubbed, tasered and being issued nighttime curfews. They’ve gained the solidarity of staff, parents and the community.

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