North Mpls High School Class Examines Public Safety

At PYC Arts and Technology High School, students are learning how to navigate and address police and community violence. The class covers policing past and present, public safety models in other countries, and the role of youth in liberation struggles. The community-based course was created in response to the reality of students’ lives. 

Feven Gerezgiher reports: 

At PYC Arts and Technology High School, students are learning how to navigate and address police and community violence. Social studies teacher David Boehnke said the school started a community-based class last year to connect with students’ lives.

“We’re in North Minneapolis. People are overpoliced and underprotected. There’s a lot of shootings that happen here. We actually had a bullet hit our building this year,” said Boehnke. “It’s a very personal and daily issue for folks.”

The class covers policing past and present, public safety models in other countries, and the role of youth in liberation struggles.

On Tuesday, the class watched a video by local comedian and activist Winston Smith, Jr., who was shot and killed by members of a federal task force last week. In the video, which he posted to Instagram, Smith encouraged others to learn from his past.

“Why am I even here? Cus hopefully it helps somebody, one person. As long as one helps that person. Cus I am that person that need that help. I was that person that needed that help…I wish it was a person talking, giving me advice, giving me a head’s up on how to think. I felt like when I go through a situation I ain’t have no one to talk to.”

Students Ronald Carlson and Donte Beck say the class has allowed them to engage with current events.

“We’re kinda going over things as they happen and it’s kind of like processing how we feel about it, just kind of like what we can do about it. What we can do to change it. What needs to change,” said Carlson. “Like actual current world problems,” Beck added.

In May, PYC students hosted a community conversation on self-governance. Over 30 Northside residents attended, sharing experiences and exchanging advice with youth on community issues. 

PYC students say they plan to continue holding these conversations.

Artist: Maiya Hartman (IG:@maiyaleaart)

 

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