SAN DIEGO – Hundreds of students rallied Thursday, calling to defund the San Diego Unified Police Department.
The crowd gathered at the front of the Eugene Brucker Education Complex in San Diego before taking to the streets, blocking traffic at Normal Street and then Campus Avenue.
“We’re protesting to completely defund school police so that we can get them out of our schools and so we can pour that money back into resources that POC, mainly Black and brown students need the most,” protester Nyadoth Gatkuoth said, singling out mental health resources and more diverse staff to “match the background of students of color like them.”
Gatkuoth also said she’d seen an officer use what she believed was unnecessary force against a student.
The call to defund the department comes as protesters nationwide are asking for the same in other communities in the fallout of the Memorial Day police killing of George Floyd. In Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, city officials are grappling with a proposed plan to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department, though the logistics of that choice still are being debated.
Last month, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond noted that some districts still need officers to protect students in incidents such as school shootings or bomb threats, but not to discipline students.
In San Diego, protesters acknowledged concerns some have over removing officers from schools and not having them on campus in case of a serious emergency, but said it still was a necessary step.
“We wanna feel like we can walk our campuses without being criminalized,” another protester said. “There’s no reason as to why we are students, but we’re criminals in their eyes at the same time.”