Alithia Ramirez is a fourth grade student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. A yellow sun looks over a cloud of forbidden words in the corner of her poster. A loser. It's ugly. Each is eliminated with a slash. At the top of the poster, Ramirez wrote a slogan embellished with a smile.
The father of one of the students killed in the school shooting said she wanted to be an artist.
The Uvalde City School District has its own police department, staffed with a chief, five cops, and a security guard. Absent meaningful gun reform, advocates and lawmakers often call for changes that are more doable.
This is Alithia Ramirez, 10. She was a 4th grader at #RobbElementary.Her dad says she loved to draw and wanted to be an artist, and even submitted a drawing to Doodle for Google.
I met him yesterday when he was waiting for answers. I was really hoping he'd get a different one. pic.twitter.com/xEaJe0obxR— Garrett Brnger (@BrngerReports) May 25, 2022
An 18-year-old high school student in a state that does not require a license to carry was able to purchase an assault rifle as soon as he became eligible. The shooter crashed his car and was engaged by law enforcement before entering the school, but he still made it inside.
Parents urged police to follow the shooter into the school after they saw him rush inside with his rifle. Some parents tried to enter themselves, but the police stopped them. A video from the scene shows a cop pinning a person to the ground while another uses a stun gun. One of the children who survived said that an officer told them to yell "help" if they needed it and that one of the kids was found dead by the shooter.
The number of school resource officers has ballooned over the last two decades. Alex Vitale said there is no evidence that police have the ability to stop these shootings.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that law enforcement officials were able to save lives because of the quick response. In a press conference Wednesday, unfortunately, not enough. More than two dozen law enforcement agencies were involved in responding to the shooting. Immigration enforcement agencies housed under the Department of Homeland Security promised to refrain from deporting and arresting people in the area for the time being.
Even though he had no publicly known diagnosis, a flurry of early coverage identified the shooter as a victim of bully and speculated about mental health issues.
Law enforcement officers are often the ones who bully students in schools.
There have been more than two dozen school shootings in the US this year. Since they aren't preventing school shootings? They are harassing kids, searching kids, and engaging in a war on drugs. The burden of that falls on disabled kids, kids of color, and kids of the same race. That's what school police do.
Law enforcement can't stop these things every time. Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Fox News that we need people on the ground, whether they are trained police officers or not.
Vitale said that the idea that a teacher with a gun is going to stop someone with a semi-automatic or automatic weapon is ludicrous.
In January, Uvalde City police received a half-million-dollar grant from the state's controversial Operation Lone Star program, which Abbott launched last March, deployment thousands of soldiers to the state's southern border. The department's budget is just under 40 percent of the total budget. Federal funding for school resource officers comes from the Community Oriented Policing Services, orCOPS, program under the Department of Justice, which provides more than half a billion dollars each year for state and local law enforcement.
The Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant told CNN that the shooter was able to enter the premises after the officers from the Uvalde City Independent School District engaged him.
In the wake of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, members of the community gather at the City of Uvalde Town Square.
Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images
Both Democratic and Republican federal and local officials have prioritized police presence over stricter gun laws as mass shootings in the U.S. continue to rise. Efforts to arm teachers have led to more violence. The state of Florida passed a law allowing teachers to be armed in the classroom. There were several incidents, including in California, Virginia, and Florida, where armed teachers and school resource officers accidentally fired their weapons.
“Police are really in schools because they are the most effective tool for the state at controlling young Black and brown people.”
Civil and human rights groups like the Dignity in Schools Campaign say that if anti-bullying and mental health initiatives are to be taken seriously, they should be pursued outside of a law enforcement context. Kesi Foster is a co-executive director at Partners for Dignity and Rights, an organization that works to advance economic and social rights in housing, education and labor.
When schools became a place for students to fight for their rights during the civil rights movement, Foster said, police have been used in schools for more than half a century.
There is no evidence that it exists, but we would love to see it if it did. The Justice Policy Institute is a criminal justice group. In schools with police, kids are more likely to be suspended and expelled, and more likely to be referred to the justice system, the so-called school to prison pipeline, for behavior that is not necessarily appropriate to be referred to the justice system. When I was in school, it was more likely to be handled in the principal's office.
“What does keep schools safe is having more well trained mental health counselors, social workers, and alternative resolution dispute programs.”
It's important to have well trained mental health counselors, social workers, and alternative resolution dispute programs in schools. Schools and education budgets have been slashed while police funding continues to increase. Police officers usually cost more than counselors and social workers.
Black and brown students are disproportionately affected by increased policing in schools, which is why mass school shootings have historically been perpetrated by young white males.
The Uvalde shooter was socially isolated, bullied, and had exhibited violent behavior, but the assumption that mental illness leads to gun violence is a dangerous scapegoat.
Vitale said that instead of marshaling a robust preventative intervention, we wait until the problem expresses itself as a mass killing and then we microanalyze the police response. Police is an inadequate response to these things. By the time the shooting starts, the police intervention will be on high alert. People will die.
May 26, 2022 is an update.
There are new details that have emerged about Tuesday's shooting.