In this op-ed, public defender Olayemi Olurin argues that the Uvalde school shooting underscores the push to defund police.

By Olayemi Olurin, Teen Vogue

There has never been a clearer demonstration of police ineptitude, dishonesty, failure, and callous disregard for our lives than what unfolded in the Uvalde, Texas, shooting at Robb Elementary School.

crosses for the children murdered at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas

Uvalde invests nearly 40% of its annual budget in the police department and has a local S.W.A.T team for rapid response. Students and officers are trained in preparation for possible school shootings. Uvalde’s school district even has its own police department. Yet a fourth-grade class was massacred while at least 19 armed officers allowed the shooter to barricade himself in a classroom, then stood out in the hallway for at least 40 minutes while students hiding in adjoining classrooms called 911 repeatedly, at least six timesbegging to please send help.

At times, officers had their backs completely turned to the school as they policed the parents. As the Wall Street Journal reported, onlookers described several terrified parents being tackled, tasered, handcuffed, and threatened with arrest as they begged officers to go inside and save their kids — or for attempting to do so themselves.

Police initially told us that a resource officer confronted the shooter before he entered the school and that the shooter was covered in armor. That was a lie, and they’ve told many more since. Per the Journal, the shooter arrived at the school with an AR-15, no armor, and lingered outside for 12 minutes, firing shots, before simply walking into the school. At 11:30 a.m., the police received a 911 call that reported there was a man with a gun outside the school. No officers confronted him, but at 11:31 a.m., one officer reportedly drove right by the man, choosing instead to follow a teacher he apparently believed to be the suspect.

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