Day Time Curfew
by Kris Brannon Anaduaka
Have you ever been late to work? Have you ever received a ticket for two hundred fifty dollars and brought to work in handcuffs for being late? No, I didn't think so. Many students within the Los Angeles School District are in an uproar regarding Los Angeles Municipal Code (45.04). LAMC is a Daytime Curfew Law. The law requires all students to be in school from bell to bell. If found outside of school during school hours by a police officer, a student can be fined up to two hundred fifty dollars, plus court cost.
It has become a crime for many teens to be late to school, even when the lateness is out of the student’s control. The city’s bus problems contribute to many students truancy issues. The inability to pay these truancy tickets has sparked controversy. The students of The Los Angeles Unified School District were no longer going to stay quiet about this issue. "I’m Pre-Med, Pre-Job, NOT Pre-Prison” the students chant.
In July, I attended a rally along with more than four hundred students and their families. These students attend a school within the Los Angeles School District. The event focused on minority teens that were rallying against the Los Angeles School District for its Day Time Curfew Law.
The event was organized by teen students from The Strategy Center’s Community Rights Campaign. The Strategy center is based in Los Angeles California. The Community Rights Campaign is dedicated to the inner city youth and provides intensive training on organizing, contact development and political education. Students spend time during the school year learning about different current events, organizing on the bus, and or street actions.
Most students at this rally were dedicated students from Westchester, Cleveland and Locke High School. Some one screamed “Its Highway Robbery.” Many of the teens I heard from, explained in great detail, how missing the bus or getting passed up by a bus cost their families money. Poor bus services in the city have always been a problem. Many of the students blatantly said their parents could not afford the ticket. They also expressed how difficult it is for their parents just to pay for the basic essentials needed in the home. Some of the teens who had received a ticket for being tardy, stated that their ticket has become misdemeanors failure to appear warrants, because their families could not afford to pay.
The students were from different backgrounds and they each have a different experience, but they came together that day to rally and to fight for their education. They were productively expressing their feelings. By informing school officials, that this fight was not just about putting a stop on the tickets, but it was also about wanting a better learning environment. Where teens, especially Black and Latinos, aren't pushed out of the educational system and pulled into the prison system unwillingly just because of lack of funds.
The Students were fired up about this issue. We ended the rally at the Southern California Library here in Los Angeles. The teens ended the day with spoken word pieces, songs and stories regarding the truancy issues they face. They all had on forest green color shirts, with “I'm Pre-Med, Pre-Job, NOT Pre-Prison” in white, on the front. “Not down with the Lockdown in white, on the back. It was very inspirational. The students meant business that day.
I feel the rally was particularly crucial because not only did this campaign grab the attention of the officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District, but the community had the opportunity hear the teen express how they felt about "truancy tickets" in general.
I feel it’s ridiculous to think that a student can get a two hundred fifty dollar ticket for having a valid reason to be late to school! Since when did ticketing and school police replace counselors, on campus suspensions or even trash pick up? Like Millikan High School, the high school I graduated from, in Long beach California, did back in 1995? More importantly, the LA Municipal Code 45.04 is not productive, because from the students I have talked with; it only discourages them from going to school. The students do not want tickets and they certainly do not need them either.
I feel ticketing students will definitely increase the already high percentage drop out rate of high school students in Los Angeles. A high percentage of Los Angeles students are of color, along with that, many of them are low income. This policy is obviously racially discriminatory because you do not see this any where else other than the black/brown communities. Furthermore it only serves to put a financial strain on the parents of these students. Finally I feel students need are more teachers, classrooms, books, counselors, chairs, classes, and this list can go on. That is why the students are working so hard campaigning for a great cause. Even though the rally was only two hours long and a couple of months ago, I can still feel the energy of that rally. It was so inspiring to see all of the dedicated students from the near by high Schools who spent their day off of school supporting a great cause that deserves city wide recognition.
The Labor / Community Strategy Center
View more about this rally and the Labor / Community Strategy Center here.
From their "About Us" Page:
The Strategy Center is a Think Tank/Act Tank for regional, national and international movement building, founded in 1989 and based in the 10 million-person world city of Los Angeles. Our campaigns, projects, and publications are rooted in working class communities of color, and address the totality of urban life with a particular focus on civil rights, environmental justice, public health, global warming, and the criminal legal system. We build consciousness, leadership, and organization among those who face discrimination and societal attack--people of color, women, immigrants, workers, LGBT people, youth, all of whom comprise our membership. Linking mass struggles to the need for radical, structural change, we develop campaigns and demands that help build a revitalized world united front that can stop the rising tides of war, racism and imperialism, the ecological crisis and the growing police state. Our work often challenges both major political parties and takes on the organized Right. We fight to win.
Center for the Study of Political Graphics
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