It’s hard for me to imagine eight cops were really riled up to do that
|Dec 13||Public post|| 4|
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Gregory McKelvey looked out his window and saw the cops in riot gear marching up the street toward his home. He thought to himself that’s really weird what’s going on he told me and scared for what was about to happen next he did what a lot of teenagers might do he he ran upstairs and hid under his bed. Maybe if no one answers the door they’ll go away he thought.
Instead his grandmother went to the door and just as she arrived they forced their way in with guns drawn.
“I actually think most of those officers thought they were doing something different because it’s hard for me to imagine eight cops were really riled up to do that,” he said.
One of them thought he might have stolen a calculator at school.
The officer who had taken to harassing McKelvey of late rifled through his things. The dog was freaking out and his grandmother didn’t understand what was going on. They took his computer his family’s computer and his cell phone and then they kept them for a year all while trying to crack the case of the missing calculators but in fairness it was a TI84 which at the time about ten years ago would have gone for around $60 so you can understand the urgency of the mission.
I spoke with McKelvey after reading a thread he posted on Twitter this week about his experience having police officers stationed in schools. In Portland near where he grew up the school board voted this week to pay police $1.2 million a year to be stationed at schools around the city five days a week despite protests from students and activists who say the board hadn’t allowed enough time for the community to voice their thoughts on the issue. The school board chair Rita Moore who had previously pledged to oppose such a measure was not in attendance for the vote this week.
Previously school resource officers would be on hand at schools around the city for a handful of days at no cost to the district.
Vice chair Julie Esparza Brown the only board member of color was the lone no vote.
She explained that “she'd been unfairly targeted as a person of color and that she was worried about how this decision would adversely affect children of color in schools,” as Oregon Live reported. She said she’d also been against having armed police at Portland State University where she is a professor and where officers shot a man to death this summer. Jason Washington a forty five year old postal worker and Navy veteran was shot at seventeen times and hit nine times by the school officers roughly thirty seconds after they got our of their vehicles. Witnesses said Washington was trying to break up a bar fight at the time but a jury later declined to bring any charges against them for killing him because juries love to believe in the good intentions of police.
People tend to think about the presence of police officers in school as offering a measure of safety in the case of a school shooting which may or may not be true but they don’t tend to think about what the police are supposed to be doing during all the downtime when schools aren’t under assault. It may not seem like it but schools in America aren’t actually being shot up all day every day year round. So cops, given nothing else to do, will always revert to being cops. If they’re stationed at an otherwise relatively peaceful school they’ll often go looking for people to harass or for exciting crimes to solve to make themselves feel like they’re not wasting their time. And it’s no surprise what types of students end up being the recipient of their attention.
A while after the time his home had been raided McKelvey was arrested again by the same officer at track practice.
“After that the coaches would not let me become captain, again impacting my college options. It also impacted which kids would risk associating with me. For some kids this means hanging out with kids who are actually committing crimes and falling into that life,” he tweeted.
“I was expected to go to school the next day with him there. I had to hold it all in. I had nightmares about it for years. I couldn’t focus in class, I was always terrified. The white kids were getting stickers from him as I feared for my life.”
I called McKelvey this morning to hear more about his story and to learn more about the situation in Portland schools. The twenty five year old recently relocated to Atlanta where he works now for a non-profit focused on issues around homelessness is a board member of the local DSA chapter.
I’ve read the news reports on the police in schools issue but can you explain it from your perspective?
There’s been a movement toward getting rid of cops in schools at the high school level in Portland but also at the college Portland State University. Recently cops killed two people within the last year there, so there’s a lot of momentum toward removing cops from schools. The last thing people really expected was to get the opposite where they’re adding police in schools. Especially when the person who is the board chair now was asked specifically about this in debates and said they would support removing officers from schools. The board chair was conveniently not at the vote but it’s hard to imagine a vote would have happened with the strong opposition of the chair.
Portland is the whitest major city in America so I think for a lot of the students and especially the parents officers in schools do make them feel more safe. So I think it’s important to tell the stories of the people who do not feel more safe.
Is the school board Republican? Is is this like Trumpian we’ve got to harden the schools rhetoric?
No, it’s so much worse than that because they’re all what across the country I guess would be called pretty liberal Democrats. It just goes beyond party. I think their idea of it is they don’t think about what the officers spend most of their time doing. Rather they think about school shootings. So they’re trying to protect the school from a possible shooting, but it’s funny because these are the same people that would laugh at the notion of a “good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun” unless that good guy is a cop.
Where were you in school when your encounters with the police happened?
I went to a school called Southridge High School in the suburbs of Portland like ten minutes away. The demographics would’ve been identical to most Portland schools. As soon as I started high school where there was an officer there, it was like constantly bing afraid of being arrested for stuff I either didn’t do, that my friends did, or that every white kid was doing also, like smoking pot. White kids are running around smoking pot all over high school and their biggest fear is that their parents are going to find out and it doesn’t even cross their mind that they’re going to be arrested for it.
You were hassled by one in particular?
This officer thought that I was a part of stealing a specific calculator. There was a cart of calculators that was stolen earlier in the year and he thought whoever did that was probably responsible for any stolen calculators. It was a TI84 at that time I think they were like $60.
I would get called into the office whenever anything went missing. I had no reason to steal I wasn’t poor or anything. But all of my black friends would get called into the office, and when you do it’s not like just the vice principal’s office it’s a police officer and the vice principle.