Photos: Minnesota students call for end to school resource officer programs

A person speaks in front of a crowd of people holding signs in the street.
Taya Harris, a 2016 graduate of Hopkins High School, speaks about her experience with student resource officers during a march in downtown St. Paul on Saturday. The student-led march was held to call on Minnesota school districts to end contracts with local police departments.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

About 200 people representing more than 20 schools took part in a student-led march in downtown St. Paul on Saturday, calling on Minnesota school districts to end contracts with local police departments.

School resource officer programs have drawn scrutiny and criticism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Proponents say they keep schools safe, but opponents say they can be more of an impediment than a help to students. They've called for that money to be spent on more counselors and other student services.

Kaaha Kaahiye was among the speakers who addressed the crowd before today's march. She said she saw several Black students assaulted by a school resource officer when she attended high school in St. Paul.

"All students, and Black students especially, have a right to police-free learning environments. And we're going to make that happen today," she told the crowd, highlighting the student-led origins of the event.

The group gathered outside the building housing the headquarters of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and marched to the State Capitol.

Some Minnesota school districts, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, already have severed ties with local police departments. Organizers on Saturday pushed to see more districts across the state take the same step.

Correction (Aug. 9, 2020): A previous version of this story included a photo caption with incorrect information about Taya Harris’ connection to Hopkins High School. Harris is a 2016 graduate of the school.

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