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Minneapolis high school students demand: Justice for Anthony Thompson Jr, no police in schools

By staff |
April 26, 2021
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Justice for Anthony Thompson, Jr. march in Minneapolis, MN.
Justice for Anthony Thompson, Jr. march in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

Minneapolis, MN – Around 50 protesters gathered outside the John B. Davis Education and Support Center, the main headquarters for the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education, on April 25 to demand justice for Anthony J. Thompson, Jr., a 17-year-old Black youth who was murdered by Knoxville, Tennessee police on April 12, in his own school. The Knox County district attorney already declared that Jonathan Clabough, the officer who shot and killed Thompson, will not be charged. The protest to demand justice was organized by the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) and the Student Movement Activists of South High (SMASH), an affiliate of Students for a Democratic Society.

Protesters marched from the Davis Center down W. Broadway Avenue, receiving much support from bystanders, with cars honking in solidarity. Chants of “Say his name, Anthony Thompson!” and “When Black youth are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!” among many others, were heard as they made their way down the road.

“The murders of Anthony Thompson, Jr., Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo, and far too many other Black and brown youth illustrate fully that the cops feel perfectly justified in even murdering children, and they’re not held accountable for it,” said Zach Moore of SMASH. “These murders make clear that cops, no matter what school districts are calling them, do not belong in our schools.”

During the uprising last summer against police crimes which was sparked by the murder of George Floyd, the MPS Board of Education was forced by the combined efforts of students, teachers and educational support professionals to end its School Resource Officer (SRO) contract with the Minneapolis police department. However, they later replaced it with a similar position under a new name, ‘Public Safety Support Professional,’ and hired many former police and prison officers to this new position.

“When I was at school,” said Francisco Sanchez, of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, “we had to organize a walkout in 2016, the year I graduated, because one of the police officers threw a Black girl down some stairs, and at the bottom of the stairs he put his knee on her back as she screamed and cried.” Sanchez highlighted the brutality that police in schools employ against Black students, and the use of police and prison tactics to criminalize students.

Monique Cullars Doty of TCC4J spoke of another instance of police crimes committed against Black youth and students. “Just about three years ago, there was a student at Saint Paul Central, and he had just transferred out like a week before to the recording arts school. He went back to his school to see his teacher, a Saint Paul police officer dragged him to a secluded area,” she said, “and beat him like a grown man.”

The protest raised demands that Tennessee officer Clabough be charged and convicted for the murder of Anthony Thompson, Jr., that there be community control of the police in the form of a Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC), and that there be an end to police presence in schools.

Organizations that supported the protest include: Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, Student Movement Activists of South High, MN Youth for Justice, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Students for a Democratic Society at UMN, Minneapolis Cop Watch, the Anti-War Committee, the Climate Justice Committee, the MN Justice Coalition, MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, among others.