Judith Browne Dianis Leads Efforts to Disrupt the School-to-Prison Pipeline with #PoliceFreeSchools Nationwide

Judith Browne Dianis ('92), Executive Director of the Advancement Project, was featured in numerous publications this month reimagining safety in schools without police, structural racial justice, and corporate activism that counts.

The Atlanta Daily World noted Judith's longstanding advocacy and recognized her as the "Godmother of a movement to end police violence in schools" who coined the term "school-to-prison pipeline" ("Minneapolis Public Schools End Contract with Police Department," June 3). "Research and the experiences of young people of color have taught us that police in schools create a toxic school climate and fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. #PoliceFreeSchools are essential to the well-being of our Black and Brown youth. As a national civil rights organization that has worked on education justice issues for over decade, we will continue to support parents, students and educators in campaigns to eliminate racial discipline disparities and dismantle institutional racism within the nation's public schools. This move by Minneapolis Public Schools is bold, big and gets us one step closer to reimagining justice for our young people of color," Judith said.

In an article on The 74 website detailing the student-led initiative that resulted in Minneapolis Board of Education's decision to end its relationship with the city police department, Judith asserted, "Minneapolis Public Schools District has had a long history of pushing black and brown students into the school-to-prison pipeline. It is an important corrective step forward for the school board to recognize that MPD has shown that they cannot be trusted and should not be in schools. There have been too many examples across the country of police violence against students in our school hallways and criminalization of students of color." ("For Years before George Floyd's Death, Schools Were Urged to Cut Ties with Police. Inside the Student Campaign That Convinced Minneapolis to Act — and Sparked a Nationwide Trend," June 7).

In a piece featured on Chalkbeat, Judith called for all school districts to cut ties with local law enforcement and considered alternatives to school resource officers for ensuring school safety ("Some School Districts Are Cutting Ties with Police. What's Next?" June 9). "The problem is that the security staff tend to start doing the same thing. We have to be creative. Listen to young people ... and hear what makes them safe."

In Education Week's examination of police presence in schools and alternative safety plans ("Do Cops Belong in Schools? Minneapolis Tragedy Prompts a Hard Look at School Police," June 5), Judith cautioned: "We need to be thinking about alternatives to school safety so that children can feel safe and can learn in an environment that is safe for them to thrive. Police undercut that culture. … People need to understand that the police who are in schools are the same police who are on the streets. They come from the same police department, they get the same training, they report to the same chief. We cannot decouple them."

Judith was also quoted in an ESSENCE.com article highlighting a concerted response from civil rights leaders and racial justice advocates raising a call to action for new laws and systemic reforms ("Black Lawmakers, Advocates and Community Pushing for Police Reforms," June 4). "Blackness continues to put a mark on our backs. The police continue to believe that Black lives do not matter."

Finally, in The Wall Street Journal, Judith commented on corporate activism and how one favorite ice cream company is getting it right ("Corporate Activism Gets Its Day. Ben & Jerry's Has Been at It for Decades," June 5). On Ben & Jerry's, who printed 55 words about the Advancement Project on one million-plus pints sold of their "Justice ReMix'd" flavor, Judith affirmed, "They walk the walk. It's not just about cutting a check and walking away."