There are so many things wrong with the NRA's proposal to put armed police officers at all 130,000 of our nation's K-12 schools, it's hard to know where to start. But one obvious consequence of inviting the police in to patrol our schools' hallways is the way it tends to escalate minor disciplinary problems into confrontations with the law, particularly for children of color:
KENNETH screwed up. The 11th grader made a crude joke about the police officers in his Bronx high school — and an officer overheard.
“What did you say?” the officer demanded. “Say it again and I’m going to punch you in the [expletive] mouth.”
“You can’t [expletive] touch me,” said Kenneth, who has Asperger syndrome.
And so it began ...
The officer pulled out his nightstick, with one hand, grabbed Kenneth (whose name I’ve changed) by the throat with the other, and pushed him against the wall. Then he pinned the boy’s arms behind his back and pulled him, by the neck of his hoodie, down the fourth-floor hallway.
The officer, who said Kenneth pushed him, arrested Kenneth and drove him to the local precinct, where officers took his photo and his fingerprints, and detained him overnight in a locked cell.
Kenneth says he was not permitted to call his mother — or a lawyer — until much later in the day and it wasn’t until the next morning, when he was taken to court and charged with resisting arrest, that he was read his rights. On the advice of court-appointed counsel, Kenneth pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and emerged from the incident with an arrest record.
The story is disturbing, but not unusual.
I suppose one could say that this kid wouldn't have gotten into so much trouble if he hadn't stupidly mouthed off to a cop. But mouthing off isn't illegal. And now this kid has a criminal record, a permanent black mark that will make it harder for him to get into college or get a job, and that statistically raises his chances of being incarcerated. All because an officer was there to assert the authority he had.
We've all seen the penchant some Seattle police officers have for escalating incidents beyond reason, and the SPD are a bunch of pussycats compared to police in some other cities. Post police officers at every school in the nation, and thousands of kids a year—mostly black and hispanic—will find themselves in jail for behavior that might otherwise just earn them a trip to the principal's office.
It is ironic that the NRA, an organization that insists the citizenry needs to arm itself against the potential tyranny of government, is also one of the strongest advocates for transforming our nation into a police state.