HOST INTRO: Black and Latino high school students in the south Bronx are getting a crash course in political activism. The students of South Bronx Community Charter High School organized their own street protest against police brutality in partnership with Black Lives Matter. The march was held on Saturday, December 2nd. David Zha has more.
[ambi of marshal training]
ZHA 1: In a brightly-lit room that resembles a small dance studio, a group of about 15 9th graders gather in a circle. They’re here to learn how to be marshals in the upcoming Black Lives Matter protest. Miriam Diakite is 14 years old. She’s here to fight against police violence.
DIAKITE 1: I signed up to be a marshal to find justice for every police victim, for every black person that died in the hands of the police and there’s no justice in their case. And that’s the whole point of the march. (0:13)
ZHA 2: The curriculum at South Bronx Community is highly student-driven, and getting trained for protests came out of student interest. Alexis Danzig and Jaime Bauer are members of the activism group Rise and Resist.
DANZIG 1: So we’re here to teach young people how to comport themselves in the street as marshals (0:06)
BAUER 1: We’re a direct action group so we do a lot of street demonstrations. We usually have a small group of organizers who are wearing colored armband and they’re mashaling. But think of it more like facilitating the demonstration. We help make it a little less chaotic. More welcoming. (0:18)
ZHA 3: The students partner up and practice calmly responding to hecklers by engaging them in conversation.
DANZIG 2: Can we get two lines please? I want to see everyone buddied up. You’re gonna practice looking people right in the eye and asking them, “What is your name? Why do you have that opinion?” (0:14)
[ambi of pairing up]
ZHA 4: The class discusses how to react when police are present. Danzig warns students to never touch a police officer.
DANZIG 3: Touching a police officer is an assault. So you never want to touch a cop. (0:04)
[ambi of police lesson “Can we get arrested”]
ZHA 5: This is the second year that South Bronx Community students have worked with Black Lives Matter to organize a march. Hawk Newsome, president and founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, says activism gives students a unique opportunity to learn skills they won’t find in a classroom. The protest is completely student run, with Hawk serving in a supporting role.
NEWSOME 1: They wrote the press release. They crafted letters to elected officials. It’s their words. They’re learning communications skills. They’re unlearning how politics works. They’re learning how to get your message out, your points across at 14? Can you imagine what they’ll be like at 24? (0:10)
ZHA 7: Mario Benabe is a science teacher at South Bronx Community. He hopes the marshal training will inspire students to continue their activism in the future.
BENABE 1: Whenever any of our students experience any form of injustice, they can use these skill to combat whatever injustice they feel on a deeply personal level. The ultimate vision is to see more youths engage in this type of work. (0:20)
ZHA 8: The importance of fighting peacefully against injustice is not lost on 14 year old Miriam Diakite.
DIAKITE 2: It’s not like we’re gonna go and punch people or rush through people. We’re doing this nonviolently. Every day somebody’s dying, some black person is dying over something as irrelevant as candy and soda. (0:14)
ZHA 9: As the struggle for racial justice continues, expect to see South Bronx Community students leading the fight in the future.
David Zha, Columbia Radio News.