Wake Ed

Youth activists protesting Wake County's school-to-prison pipeline

Local youth activists are holding a week-long series of events as part of a nationwide campaign to protest the school-to-prison pipeline in Wake County and across the country.

NC HEAT, Youth Organizing Institute, Education Justice Alliance, Youth Against Rape Culture, iNSIDEoUT & Dignity in Schools Campaign will start with a 4:30 p.m. press conference today at Raleigh Police headquarters. According to a press release, they'll speak out on "police brutality, the Solutions not Suspensions Campaign, and the criminalization of youth."

Other events include Friday's third annual March Against Schools Pushout that will go from Washington Elementary School in Raleigh to Central Prison.

In the press release, organizers note that Wake County's black students make up 25 percent of the student body but 60 percent of out-of-school suspensions. The groups also say that students of color are arrested and incarcerated for minor student code of conduct offenses.

"The stories of police violence in our schools and neighborhoods are too numerous to count. As young people in Wake, Durham, and Orange County public schools, we have witnessed unspeakable violence from police both on and off school grounds," said Qasima Wideman said in the press release. "From Enloe High School students being brutalized and arrested under accusations of throwing water balloons to the family and friends of Jesus Huerta being tear gassed in the streets of Durham after he was killed while in police custody."

Wake has made efforts in the past few years to reduce student suspensions and approved this year a new memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies on school resource officers.