Police Locked Up This City's Students With No Probable Cause

Meridian High School
Zain Murdock
October 13, 2021

In October 2012, the US Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Meridian, Mississippi, its police department, and officials for incarcerating children for non-criminal violations of school rules! And, of course, they found that their school-to-prison pipeline had a severe impact on Black and disabled students.

The public schools sent students to Meridian Police Department for the smallest things - like farting in class or “violating” dress code by wearing the wrong color socks. Police automatically arrested all referred students, often without probable cause, no legal representation, and without reading them their Miranda rights.

Fortunately, in 2013, Meridian Public School District parted ways with the police department - somewhat. Student misconduct is now primarily handled by internal school staff. They also use resource officers properly trained in addressing mental health incidents. And there’s a message here.

Black youth already face state-sanctioned violence outside the classroom as it is. So community-based resources and better disciplinary action approaches for Black youth in schools cannot be ignored. It was crucial for the Meridian school district to divest in policing and invest in our children.

The truth is, much like our society at large, police have no place in schools. With what we know about the "adultification" of Black youth and how school officers aid in the school-to-prison pipeline, more public schools should follow suit.

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