Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

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Advocacy Groups Demand Transparency From LAUSD and Other Local Agencies Regarding School Surveillance Programs

LOS ANGELES - Today, a coalition of Los Angeles-based civil rights and community groups issued a Public Records Act (PRA) Request to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and other local agencies demanding transparency about these agencies’ involvement in surveillance programs; in particular, the so-called federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) programs. 
 
CVE and PVE are dangerous surveillance programs premised on the false assumption that certain communities — including Muslim, refugee, and Black and Brown communities — are more prone to “radicalization” and violence. 
 
The coalition issuing the PRA request includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA), the Council on American Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the Vigilant Love Coalition, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal).
 
Just last month, the coalition successfully forced the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office to decline federal funding from the Department of Homeland Security to implement CVE in LA. Despite this result, local agencies in Los Angeles continue to contemplate CVE and similar programs that stereotype and target our communities such as PVE, which is aimed at implementing CVE-like “deradicalization” and “intervention” strategies in K-12 schools, despite no compelling evidence that students or youth are especially prone to any such “extremism” or “radicalization.”
 
“Counter-radicalization programs like CVE and PVE falsely assume that extremism among young people is an existential threat to society, despite statistical evidence that demonstrates that such threats are numerically insignificant,” says Mohammad Tajsar of ACLU SoCal. “In truth, these programs are designed to police the thoughts and actions of students and young people outside of the political mainstream in a manner that threatens their core civil and human rights.”
 
Today’s PRA request asserts that CVE and programs like it, including programs targeting so-called “Black Identity Extremism,” are premised on the dehumanizing assumption that marginalized communities are inherently prone to violence and susceptible to “extremism” or “radicalism.”
 
“CVE and programs like it take many forms, and among them is PVE, about which we know very little,” says Laboni Hoq, litigation director at Advancing Justice-LA. “AMEMSA communities continue to be innocent targets of overreaching surveillance and violence. CVE, PVE, and other programs have been devised and implemented to police these communities and continue a long line of such federal policing and surveillance programs.”
 
“It is particularly alarming to have programs like CVE and PVE targeting students, which will only stigmatize and further marginalize Muslim and Black and Brown youth,” says Sahar Pirzada of Vigilant Love. “We need to build a culture of empowerment, not suspicion.”
 
“Children from our communities deserve to attend school without fear of being profiled and criminalized and any attempt by CVE and PVE to do so violates students’ equal protection rights,” says Marwa Rifahie, civil rights managing attorney at CAIR-LA. “We demand to know more about CVE, PVE, and other such programs across LAUSD and other local agencies.”
 
All Angelenos, especially young Angelenos, deserve to feel safe and be free of unwarranted racially- and religiously-motivated suspicion and surveillance. The coalition demands transparency from the very agencies charged with protecting and cultivating the development of students and youth across Los Angeles.
 
To see a copy of the PRA Request, click here
 
Contact: 
Jessica Jinn, (213) 241-8817, [email protected]
About Advancing Justice - LA: 
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles is the nation's largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.
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Thursday, September 27, 2018
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