Southwest Organizing Projet
In an effort to resolve a misunderstanding with students I agreed to participate in a talking circle. During the process, I became frustrated and needed a break. When I got up to leave, I was blocked by a security guard. I tried to push him out of the way and the next thing I knew two other security guards pushed me up against the chalk board and handcuffed me. I was arrested and waited for five hours in my school’s detainment room before I was transferred to the juvenile detention center. The charges were eventually dropped, but I was suspended for three days. It was an overly harsh response to a minor issue that should have been dealt with in the school. It was a very stressful experience and it disrupted my education.
"Advocating for the bill was an empowering experience for me and other black and brown young people; I felt that our voices mattered."
I learned that many of my peers had also been arrested and suspended for minor issues. I realized that this was a much bigger problem, and I wanted to do something to solve it. I joined Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and Voices for Youth Chicago Education’s (VOYCE) campaign to end punitive school discipline policies.
I, along with many other young people, successfully advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 100, groundbreaking legislation that limits the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for disciplinary purposes. Advocating for the bill was an empowering experience for me and other black and brown young people; I felt that our voices mattered. As leader with SWOP and VOYCE, I will continue to mobilize with young people to advocate for legislation that limits the use of punitive discipline policies in schools.