Home > Uncategorized > Portland OR’s Hears a Cautionary Tale About Good Guys With Guns… and Illustrates How Costs WILL Shift in the Future

Portland OR’s Hears a Cautionary Tale About Good Guys With Guns… and Illustrates How Costs WILL Shift in the Future

December 17, 2018

Elise Herron’s Willamette Week story of the harrowing experience of a Beaverton school district student who was accused of stealing a calculator illustrates everything that is wrong with “hardening” schools… and the fiscal realities facing Portland Schools in their effort to secure more police is even more harrowing!

The description of an incident that involved Gregory McKelvey, a student of color, when he attended middle school in Beaverton OR, a suburb of Portland, opens the story:

“He got a warrant to investigate me for a stolen calculator,” McKelvey writes, “that I didn’t steal. He kicked down my door after school one day with eight other cops in riot gear with guns drawn on my Grandma.”

McKelvey alleges he and his grandmother were held at gunpoint as officers trashed his room and confiscated belongings. He says he spent the next few years “always terrified” at school.

It also led to Mr. McKelvey becoming an anti-SRO activist.. for good reason:

“The problem is, for many people, that cop is not a good guy,” McKelvey says. “I think that a lot of white people and white parents that hear these stories think that it’s just so outlandish and outrageous that it couldn’t be possible because it doesn’t happen to their kids. But it happens to so many kids that the stories are just going to continue to flood in.”

McKelvey hopes that sharing about his experiences with his school resource officer will shed light on how police presence affects students of color.

“The focus on the calculator I know seems outrageous,” McKelvey says, “but I would prefer the focus to be on years long intimidation of the threat of arrest [students of color experience] when white kids don’t have to deal with that. They get detention.”

As bad as Mr. McKelvey’s experiences were, the decision of the Portland School Board to spend $1,000,000 to add more nine SROs is even worse. Prior to this year, the POLICE budgeted the SROs. By assuming the fiscal responsibility for the SROs the Portland School Board is spending precious resources on enforcement instead of using those funds to provide more counsellors, more mental health workers, and more support for students. In effect, fear has trumped love in Portland. No wonder students of color are angry.

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