My son, Miles, not only saw my mug shot, he saw me get arrested. I’m not going to lie y’all, it was hard on him. And if you’re a parent, it’s hard to watch your child cry and know that you can’t comfort him and hold him in your arms because you’re handcuffed at the moment. I’m crying as I write this. His pain was real folks because he did NOT understand why the governor wouldn’t meet/talk with us. Miles did NOT understand that people don’t play fairly. And he was hurting as he watched his mom and all of his family get ‘cuffed’ for standing up for our students. For standing up for him. I screamed to him from the street, ” I love you and it’s okay”.
I realized that’s the same thing we, as educators tell our students every day. We tell them that it’s okay and that we love them in their imperfections. We love them in every form they come in. We love them as they struggle to fit in even when hunger is prevalent in their minds. We love them through their home situations, through their abuses, through their struggles, and through their pain. Our students know that one thing is consistent: they WILL see us the next day. They may not see mom or dad but they will see their teachers/ teacher assistants, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, office staff, custodians, etc..
I was willing to be arrested. My son and all the others sons and daughters that our schools serve every day, deserve to have easily assessable and the best possible up to date resources. Our students deserve to have educators at every level to meet their needs at their level. Our students deserve to feel safe when they walk through the school doors and not worry about being deported or arrested. Our students need to know that they are free to express themselves and be themselves and not have a law define them or segregate them. A law that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
I got arrested now so that hopefully my son and other sons that look like him won’t become part of the school to prison pipeline. My son needs to see that teachers, parents and his mom care so much for his future that we WILL carry his burdens so that he/they won’t have to.
As a former police officer (yep I was a cop) I saw many students with so much potential lose their lives and freedom because the government failed them in some way. I arrested children who should have been leading student government instead of leading the news. And I attended way too many funerals for kids who got caught up in the street life because the system told them they were not proficient and unfortunately these babies believed it.
As I was being placed in the back of the police van and we began our journey to the detention center, the irony of the situation did not escape me. The picture you see is the day I graduated from Portland Police Academy. I became an officer so that people could identify with a person that was familiar to them. I became an officer because I wanted to help those who couldn’t help themselves. I wanted to be their voice. As a police officer, I stood along the same lines as the police officers stood that day. I held back the crowds and protesters who were fighting for justice. I remember asking my supervisors, “Why are we here? Do we really have to arrest people who aren’t doing anything wrong?” I was not okay with arresting individuals because they were protesting for something better. Well, I did stand there and I did have to arrest a few, but in my heart I wanted to be on the other side of the line with these warriors. I wanted to chant, scream and yell for equality, for healthcare, for better wages, for nonviolence. I wanted to join their voices. I wanted to be one of them. On June 15, 2016, I became one of THEM!
The fourteen of us and all the people who stood with us on that hot day, are putting the Governor on notice. No more will you hold our educators, parents, schools, and students hostage. As Langston Hughes said “Democracy will not come Today, this year Nor ever Through compromise and fear. ” Our walk to Raleigh wasn’t just about funding our public schools. It was and still is about funding our students’ futures.
By the way, when I exited through those jail doors, my son was waiting for me. Miles ran to me and held me tight and whispered in my ear, “I love you Mom and I’m so proud of you.”
Everyone, please go to www.organize2020.com to get involved, to stand with us, to support in some way. Believe that our students deserve more. I believe that we will win!