Richmond Teachers for Social Justice is devastated by the murder of Marcus Peters, a fellow educator, who was killed by a Richmond Police officer while in a state of mental distress. Peters, as a naked man, was clearly unarmed; we call for justice for Marcus Peters, and stand in solidarity with family and community members who are struggling in the fight to end racial profiling, police brutality, and other forms of oppression that disenfranchise Black people in this country. We also call for better training in de-escalation tactics, work with the mentally ill, and non-lethal methods of detaining people from the Richmond Police Department.
We acknowledge that systemic racism has been tied to the marginalization, disempowerment, and murder of Black people in the United States since this country was founded. Police brutality against Black people is a symptom of systemic racism, which is directly linked to issues in education such as the school-to-prison pipeline and inadequate funding for public schools. Educators and leaders must recognize that many problems in education intersect with systemic racism, and gaining a more accurate understanding of the history of the United States is vital to any forward progress in this nation.
We encourage all community members to attend Demanding Justice for Marcus Peters: A Speak-Out & Mobilization (Facebook event) this Saturday, May 26th, 2018, from 2:00-4:00pm. As stated on the event page: “[t]he family of Marcus Peters and the Richmond community are calling for justice and demanding accountability and reformation at the Richmond Police Department. Come hear from the family as they share their vision of justice for Marcus and discuss next steps.”
We also urge educators to talk about police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, racial identity, implicit bias, and systemic racism with students in their classrooms and those in their broader communities. Engaging in conversation with students about racism as a theme in local as well as national current events supports not only their understanding of our national context, but also encourages the continued development of their self-identities. Teaching Tolerance, The Education for Liberation Network, and The New York Collective of Radical Educators, in addition to other websites, provide online resources to support individuals teaching about Black Lives Matter and difficult issues in classrooms and schools.