school security Pittsburgh police and school police outside on scene in the front of the school after another fight broke out during the press conference. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

School security, Pittsburgh police and school police outside on scene in the front UPrep Pittsburgh Milliones. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Pittsburgh, PA — Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) condemns the punitive response of Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 in the incident that resulted in the arrest of 30 students on Monday, February 29.

This is a direct example of the school to prison pipeline. This is why restorative justice is important to normalize and institute in public schools ASAP!

This is an example of abusive police power rather than an opportunity to use restorative justice circles to talk through the initial problem. Instead of addressing the students’ problems and talking about their issues and possible solutions, the school allowed it to fester. The school then relied on police and security to break up the fight.

The 30 students who are arrested are now isolated from their school community. On top of that, now some of the students could face criminal charges that could stay with them forever, which pushes them away from education and other opportunities.

In addition, our schools – and Pittsburgh Milliones is no exception – are underfunded, another characteristic of the school to prison pipeline. We want more resources to go into prevention rather than punishment.

The school to prison pipeline impacts Black youth in Pittsburgh the most. Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12’s student body is 93% African American. If these students were White, the incident probably would have been seen as “kids being kids” and faculty would’ve intervened so there’d be no criminal record. Youth of color are labeled and stereotyped and this has real consequences for their lives. This is why we need restorative justice that uses an anti-racist lens.

*Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) is a group of young people organizing with an anti-racist lens and is concerned about the impact of the school to prison pipeline on youth of color and youth in poverty in Pittsburgh.

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