Do we really have to say this? Children don’t belong on prison buses. Children don’t belong in environments meant to cage and hold adults. It is entirely inappropriate for any children at any time for any reason.
How much worse, then, that these children were largely children of color from underserved communities. These children have grown up in economically distressed, segregated communities. One reason these communities are economically distressed is the predatory policing practiced against African-Americans and other people of color. This predatory policing has been described as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The idea that the Sheriff and the City would deliberately load black and brown schoolchildren onto a prison bus is beyond endurance.
It adds insult to injury that other vehicles have been used for other children; why is it the black and brown who are loaded onto prison buses?
We would have applauded the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for sponsoring a beach trip for underserved youth. We would have applauded the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department for organizing the trip. Instead, these two organizations have demonstrated their inability to understand (or perhaps their callous disregard of) the difficulties faced by the poor and the brown in the City of San Diego.
The NAACP San Diego Branch is in its 100th year of supporting Civil Rights and fighting discrimination. We would be delighted to help educate Sheriff Bill Gore and his Department, as well as Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his Parks and Recreation Department. These thoughtless and insensitive actions do real harm to our children and our communities, and they must stop.