Protesters placed Black Lives Matter signs, obscenity-laden flags in school board president’s front yard overnight, she says

MADISON, Wis. — Protesters placed Black Lives Matter signs and dozens of American flags decorated with anti-police messages on the lawn of Madison Metropolitan School Board President Gloria Reyes overnight Thursday, according to a Facebook live video Reyes posted Friday morning.

Protests throughout the week in Madison have focused on removing police from schools, among other demands.

In the video Reyes said she understands where the protesters are coming from, noting how Black and brown communities are treated differently, but she argues removing police from schools is not the way to fix it.

“How can we say that taking officers out of our schools will all of sudden stop the arrest of black and brown people,” Reyes said in response to a comment on the video, also saying police would still be called to schools in response to incidents. “I would rather have an officer who has a relationship with students who can de-escalate. There are so many instances like this. We have to deal with the institutional racism that exists in police culture. That should be our focus.”

Reyes, a former police officer, said she got into policing to try and fix the way communities of color are treated by police.

The Madison Metropolitan School District has been under pressure to remove police from schools for years. Freedom, Inc., one of the organizations behind week-long protesting, has led that charge.

In 2019, the school board took a unique step in building a clause into their contract with the Madison Police Department that allows them to remove a school resource officer from one of the area high schools. The second of two opportunities to execute this option expires June 10.

The school board is unlikely to make that move, though. The school board has only one public workshop between Friday and the deadline. Reyes has also indicated she’s not interested in taking the step.

“I believe now is not the time for decisions to be made as a reaction to simply our emotions, but to continue to better understand the genesis of these emotions and to make informed decisions, that are thoughtful, purposeful, in-line with our values, through a lens of equity and with consideration for the safety and well being of every single student,” she said in a statement Friday.

A spokesperson for Madison Metropolitan School District also said the leadership at all four high schools indicated they were not interested in getting rid of their officers.

Ali Muldrow, the vice president of the school board, voted against the contract last year, and she said she still believes the district should stop having police in schools, noting how students of color are disproportionately stopped or otherwise impacted by their presence.

“We have to be against something like that,” Muldrow said. “It’s not an option to be for subjecting African American students to incarceration far more frequently than anyone else for the same sorts of things that kids of all identities are participating in.”

Muldrow said this is just one area she believes the education system should improve to bring equity to the students, something Reyes seemed to agree with.

“What are we going to do?” Reyes said in her Facebook live. “We’re going to fix the systemic racism within every institution and organization in this city. That is what we need to be focused on.”