#PoliceFreeSchools: Learning From a Growing Movement
Nationwide, movements to remove police officers, or “special resource officers,” from public schools have been gaining momentum and winning campaigns—in Oakland, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Madison, Seattle, Denver, and more. Built on years, even decades, of grassroots, activist organizing, these movements are earning hard-won gains in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and growing calls to defund the police.
This panel discussion brings in organizers—both students and mentors—engaged in these struggles at the local and national level. Zon Moua and Bianca Gomez of Freedom, Inc. worked to remove SROs from public schools in Madison, Wisconsin. Andrea Ortiz and Veronica Rodriguez of #CopsOutCPS continue to challenge the Chicago Public Schools to remove SROs at the city level, while successfully expelling SROs at individual schools, like Pilsen High School. These activists will share their experiences and lessons from organizing.
This event is part of the CAS 2019-21 Initiative Abolition which examines the multiple, convergent forms of power in the at times intersectional areas of prisons, police, immigrant justice, gendered and sexual violence, environmental justice, disability justice, and more, in order to propose an abolitionist democratic present and future.
CAS Resident Associates Toby Beauchamp (Gender and Women’s Studies) and Naomi Paik (Asian American Studies) oversee this initiative which includes a 2-year-long public events series among other activities.
Cosponsored by: Center for Advanced Study, Department of Asian American Studies, Department of Gender & Women’s Studies
Bianca Gomez (she/her) is the Youth Justice Director at Freedom Inc. She is a former special education teacher and recent graduate of UW-Madison's Afro-American Studies Masters program. Her research focused on alternatives to punitive disciplinary policies and practices that impact Black youth and youth of color. She wears many hats at Freedom Inc. including providing domestic violence and sexual assault services to Black women, youth, and LGTBQ+ folx. She provides educational advocacy for Black students and families who are dealing with antiblackness in school. Bianca also leads political education groups for young people including the Freedom Youth Squad, who are organizing against police in school, Black Girls Matter, where they talk about fighting against white supremacy and loving their bodies, and Books and Breakfast for younger kids, where they talk about body safety, activism and cultural pride. Bianca is unapologetically dedicated to Black liberation and believes in shifting power to the most impacted communities. Her dream is for all Black people to live free of violence. She looks to her ancestors for support and guidance as she engages in the struggle for freedom.
Zon Moua is a Queer, Femme, Hmoob womyn born and raised in Wisconsin. She is currently the Director of Youth Organizing at Freedom, Inc.
In 2016, Zon co-organized the US Hmong LGBTQ Delegation to attend the firsti Global Hmong Women's Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where over a hundred Hmong women and allies convened to discuss what it would look like to build a future free of gender based violence. Zon has worked on gender based violence, queer and youth justice issues since the age of 16.
Zon introduces Black and Southeast Asian youth to social justice movements through dirct services, leadership development, and community organizing with innovative art, music and dance programming. Her passion for youth justice has led her to organize on the issue of policing in schools and the criminalization of young people of color. Through her work, she hopes to not only transform herself, but her community in raising the visibility of Queer, Trans, Black and Southeast Asian leadership and liberation.