Racism, gun violence, and excessive force aren’t what you’d expect middle schoolers to be thinking about, but students told News 8’s Samaia Hernandez that they think about it all the time.
“It really bothers me. Sometimes, I can’t really focus because I just notice there’s a shooting around where I live or where my school environment is,” explained 8th grader Lamiyah McNeil.
It may be hard to understand why the recent shootings feel so personal to the 12 and 14 year olds at Elm City Prep, but it is personal.
“It’s near me. It’s near my home. I don’t feel safe in my own country, in my home,” McNeil added.
“Anytime there’s a police-involved shooting, or any shooting in New Haven for that matter, it comes into our doors,” explained Serena Johnson, Dean.
Students just finished a lesson on civil rights. It inspired them to channel their own frustrations over gun violence, police shootings, and racism.
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“Every single day, I send my little sister to the bus stop every morning and I’m afraid. And I shouldn’t have to be,” 8th grader Karria Grahm stated.
Their teachers walked out with them.
“Sometimes people think that whatever happens in the community stays in the community…But when your school is in your community, those problems come,” Johnson said.
Students said they want to see officer held accountable in cases of excessive force.
Typically, schools wouldn’t provide a space for something like this during the school day. But administrators said that, situated between New Haven and Hamden, it was really important for their students to take this time.