The following statement was released this week by Black Lives Matter Long Beach in response to the shooting of 18-year-old Manuela (Mona) Rodriquez by an armed LBUSD School Safety Officer on 9/27/21. Californians for Justice is proud to co-sign this statement and will continue working towards police-free schools in our districts in solidarity with community partners.
“Mona Rodriguez should be here, holding her 5-month-old baby. For too long we’ve seen a system of ‘safety’ that harms Black and Brown youth and our communities. Only we can keep us safe. True safety starts with relationship-building, trust and healing. ”
— Omar Cardenas, Organizing Director, Long Beach
Official Statement from BLMLB
On Monday September 27th, Manuela (Mona) Rodriquez, age 18, was shot by a Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) School Safety Officer (SSO) in the parking lot around the corner from Millikan High School. The incident was recorded by a student and broadcast by ABC Channel 7 News. The School Safety Officer was off-campus, and recklessly discharged his firearm into a car as it was driving away. Mona was critically injured in the backseat. She is now hospitalized and on life support. [See her family’s GoFundMe here]
In May 2020, after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, racial reckoning occurred across the country. We met on Zoom with our LBUSD superintendent Dr. Jill Baker and demanded that LBPD officers and SSOs be removed from schools, because they also carry guns that could be potentially harmful to students. Dr. Baker and the board of education responded by removing the 3 LBPD officers that were stationed at LB high schools. However, the SSOs are still on campus with punitive policies which allow for guns, batons, and other weapons to be used on students, are still in place.
And here we are one year later, with a young woman, 18 years old, near death at the hands of an SSO.
SSOs patrol many of the middle and high schools in Long Beach, armed with guns, batons and other weapons. According to the district, “SSO staff carry weapons and are allowed to use them on combative students”. Why would a school find it necessary to physically harm students with one of these weapons? Research gathered for BLMLBC Community Briefing, shows salaries of these campus officers for a combined total of $1,429,110. – $1,678,251. What would school safety look like if we reinvested some of these funds into school counselors and other forms of care that actually keep our students and schools safe?
The physical and psychological safety of over 68,000 LBUSD students are in clear jeopardy. Black and Latinx parents wonder if their child will come home safely at the end of each school day. They are attacked on public city buses on their way home from school, and harmed with weapons by School Safety Officers on or off campus. When will this insanity end? Black Lives Matter Long Beach, community members, and stakeholders in the city are demanding that LBUSD remove all weapons that harm and potentially kill a student, staff, teacher, or family member on campus. We want the district to implement a higher level of care to all students and their families.
Enough is enough and we are demanding systemic changes included but not limited to:
- All guns be removed from any campus employee.
- All weapons such as batons, clubs, pepper spray, etc., be removed from School Safety Officers.
- Additional training given to staff to deescalate a difficult situation.
- Review and remove all punitive punishment, and replace it with restorative practices such as: morecounselors, social workers, nurses and opportunities for arts and cultural activities.
- Town Hall meetings instituted at each school site to hear from students and parents with action stepsto follow.
- Mental health resources on every school website to be a resource for students, teachers, staff andparents/guardians.
It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win.
Signed by: Black Lives Matter Long Beach & community stakeholders
Dr. Kim Tabari, LBUSD parent, Black Parents/Guardians Circle, LB Education Connection & BLMLB Melissa Morgan, LBUSD parent & BLM Long Beach
Audrena Redmond, Co-Founder of BLM Long Beach
Dawn Modkins, Co-Founder of BLM Long Beach
Sheila Bates, BLM Long Beach
Kamilah Holmes, BLM Long Beach
James Mark, H.O.O.D Council & BLM Long Beach
Reena Hajat Carroll, MSW; Executive Director, California Conference for Equality and Justice
Marianne Drummond, Wilson High School Teacher
Jenn Stuart, Community member
Roean Stuart, Community member
Gaby Hernandez, Executive Director, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition
Christopher Covington, Statewide Lead Organizer (LB Organizer) Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network Geoffrey Windor & Ginna Brelsford, Co-Executive Directors, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network Nicole Gon Ochi, Senior Attorney, Public Advocates
Mariela Salgado, Parks Commissioner, LBUSD Parent, & LB Education Connection
Martha Cota, Latinos In Action & LB Education Connection
Lilia Ocampo, LBUSD Parent & LB Education Connection
Michael Ball, Children’s Defense Fund-CA
Angelica Salazar, Children’s Defense Fund-CA
Jerlene Tatum, LBUSD Parent & Black Parents/Guardians Circle
Children’s Defense Fund-CA
The Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union
Omar Cardenas, Parent and Organizing Director (Long Beach), Californians for Justice
Long Beach Forward
Youth Leadership Institute
Jenny Chheang,LBUSD parent and community member.
Aarti Harper, LBUSD parent
Susan McKibben, LBUSD parent
Shelly Walther, LBUSD parent and alumni
Mary Ellen Mitchell, LB community member
Kayleigh Levitt, Volunteer CAT911LB
Alyssa Gutierrez, Chair, LB Human Relations Commission
Lian Cheun, Parent & KGA Executive Director
Daniel Castro, Democratic Socialist of America – LB Steering Committee
Kailee Caruso District 3 Parent at Lowell Elementary (PTA Board, School Site Council, DEI Committee) Kenny Allen, Sunrise Movement Long Beach
Carlos Ovalle, People of Long Beach
Iyatunde Folayan, CAT911 Long Beach
Susana Sngiem, MSW, United Cambodian Community
Liz Ryan Murray, LBUSD, Parent
Bree Carlson, Community Member
Allister Baldwin, Community Member
Laverne Carlson, Community Member
Miles Murray, LBUSD Student
Marianna Clark-Igoudin, LBUSD Student
Daynna Rosales, LBUSD Student
Michael L. McCary, LBUSD Student
Burk Murray, LBUSD Parent Ellen Hartwick, LBUSD Parent Lily Gonzalez, LBUSD Student Stephanie Park, LBUSD Parent Jonathan Henry, LBUSD Parent Viki Yamashida
Tu Quynh Tra, Educator
Rev. Kyle Blake, Parent of LBUSD Student
Juan E. Ovalle, Community member
Showing Up for Racial Justice LB (SURJ)
Emilio Zapién, Youth Justice Coalition, South Central L.A.
Mau Trejo, Orange County Rapid Response Network (OCRRN) Advancement Project California
Earthlodge Center for Transformation
Educated Men with Meaningful Messages
Filipino Migrant Center
Students for Quality Education Statewide
Emily Joelle, Community member and LBUSD staff member Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles.
United Teachers of Los Angeles
Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition
Youth Justice Coalition
Social Justice Learning Institute
Khmer Girls in Action
East LA Weingart YMCA
Victor Leung, ACLU of Southern California
Student leaders, Youth Liberty Squad
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
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