This is Rosa Parks Elementary school in City Heights, one of the highest crime areas of San Diego when the school was built. Parents were involved in the design. It is surrounded by bars but they don’t look like bars; they look like sculpture.
Back then — from 1987 to 2003 — this was my neighborhood. When I moved away, there were cops at all the entrances every morning and evening. The cop shop was within sight of this school and it wasn’t unusual for a cop to go through a kid’s backpack. The Florida school that recently endured the shooting is making kids carry clear backpacks. It’s a start.
It was built during the height of the 90s shooting wave — drive bys, gang wars, drug wars — all those weaponized urban wars that motivated California to change the gun laws. The change actually succeeded in reducing gun crimes. Any rational person can appreciate a reduction in gun crimes. Elimination is better, but reduction is good.
The green space that was once a scuzzy city park next door to this school is now a place to play baseball. It is overlooked by the park services (they are law enforcement and their headquarters is next to the park) and Rosa Parks school. It is now a safe place for people to go. I remember when it wasn’t.
The school itself quickly became a safe gathering point for lots of neighborhood events and a weekend clinic. It’s beautiful and loved and valued. It is EXTREMELY multicultural because the neighborhood is one where new immigrants often set up their first home in America.
This business about kids being killed in schools has been addressed in locations in the United States where life is or has been dangerous. Should life be dangerous? No. Should we have to worry about kids being shot in school? No.
But we DO have to worry about it.
Too much time is spent trying to dispute or argue the true meaning of the Second Amendment, whether guns kill people or not, whether a person has a right to a weapon of war for self-defense. It’s irrelevant. I think the ONLY way to deal with the reality of the gun culture in this country is to make schools much, much safer for kids.
I can’t even carry a Swiss army knife on an airplane (“Uh, excuse, I want to knife you, but I need a minute to get my knife open”) or a large bottle of hand lotion or shampoo! And we have schools that are open to any jackass who wants to bring in a gun because we don’t want our schools to be “fortresses.” As Rosa Parks in City Heights in San Diego proves, they don’t have to look like fortresses to BE fortresses.
I think school districts, states, cities, parents need to evaluate existing safe schools and learn from them, then, come together as they did when this school was planned and MAKE the schools safe. Fuck our government. It doesn’t care. Should it? Yes, but it doesn’t. All those splendid expensive Trumpian walls could be built around our schools. The security systems employed on the border could be used in schools.
The NRA only has the power we give it. People have power of their own but it needs to be claimed (and not in marches of impotence) and it needs to be directed toward change. Frankly, the march yesterday disgusted me. It’s not the kids’ job to go out there and march for safety in their schools. That they felt they had to is disgusting. That they believe it will change something is naive.