5 students tell you why they want police-free schools

Activists, students and teachers across the country have been urging officials to remove law enforcement officers from schools.

(CNN)Students have spoken at school board meetings, created online petitions and held protests to push police out of their schools in the past weeks.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police heightened the scrutiny of school resource officers and so far, some schools across the United States have started cutting ties with police or disbanding their police forces.
    CNN spoke to students from across the country about school resource officers, or SROs, and the changes they want to see at their schools.

    They make them feel not valued

    Salem Hailu says it's hard for students of color to feel comfortable at schools with SROs.
    Salem Hailu, 17, a soon-to-be senior at Byers High School in Denver, Colorado, says students of color are treated differently and in a more punitive way than others by their school resource officers.
    Most of the times police are called to her school it's for incidents or reports involving students of color and mostly Black students, she says.
    "It makes me feel not wanted in my own school. It makes me feel like students of color aren't valued," Salem said.
    While SROs are encouraged to have positive interactions with students and tasked with building relationships with them, Salem thinks schools should put more resources elsewhere.
    "They (students) should be having relationships with social workers and people who could actually help their future and their mental health," Salem said.
    What's happening in her school district? Earlier this month, the Denver school board voted unanimously to end its contract with the city's police department, which provided SROs to work in the district's schools. All officers will be phased out by mid-2021, the board has said.

    They've seen SROs using excessive force

    Jasmin Benas started a petition calling for the removal of school resource officers at the Wake County Public School System.
    Jasmin Benas, 18, was in the parking lot of Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, when she watched as a group of SROs held Black students to the ground and arrested them.
    "Our immediate reaction was just like take out your phones and record. So something can hold these SROs accountable," Benas said.
    "I can understand discipline in terms of having a meeting with the principal if something happened but this wasn't discipline. It was excessive force and it wasn't appropriate," she added.
    What's happening in her district? The Wake County Public School System's board renewed it's memorandum of agreement last week and approved contracts with law enforcement agencies that provide SROs to the school district. Thousands of students have signed a petition and held protests calling for the removal of SROs.

    'We should have counselors and less cops'