Join Us ON:
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image

The Southwest Organizing Project (“SWOP”), based in Albuquerque, NM, has been working as part of a multiracial coalition to fight against the heavy police presence in Albuquerque Public Schools since 2005. Specifically, its youth rights division became actively involved when the school board and local security guards pushed for a new policy that would have allowed police and security guards to carry guns at school during school hours.

Through community outreach and advocacy, the proposed policy did not receive the sufficient number of votes for passage by the school board. Instead, SWOP youth were successful in limiting police and security guards in carrying guns on school property. The guns would only be permitted during after-school hours. After the shooting at Virginia Tech University, the school board again decided to push for armed guards at schools. SWOP once again collaborated with four local organizations, consisting namely of Chicano, Mexican, and Native American youth, and engaged in a hard-fought campaign. Specifically, SWOP used the following strategies:

  • Creating a “power map” to determine how school board members were aligned on this issue;
  • Conducting extensive research and learning that certain school board members who were supporting the initiative had run election campaigns on the premise that they would not support armed security guards in schools;
  • Launching a mail campaign, sending flyers to specific members’ constituents, labeling these members as “flip-floppers”;
  • Organizing automatic phone calls to community members, urging them to call their school board members to voice their opinions;
  • Writing blog entries opposing the policy on; and
  • Advocating for media coverage.

Because of SWOP’s efforts to oppose the initiative, a community forum was organized by the school board. Community members came out in droves and youth testified with personal stories about security in schools and the potential effect of armed guards. While the organizing and advocacy effort was powerful, the policy was eventually passed by the school board in Fall 2007.

Still not satisfied, the school board is now pushing for a legislative bill that would allow for the creation of a stand-alone school-based police force for all districts in the state. SWOP is currently organizing against it, using a variety of strategies to prevent the success of the bill, including door-knocking, mailing postcards, and seeking legislator support.

Mailer for community outreach
Newsletter article

For more information, contact:
Emma Sandoval
Youth Coordinator
SouthWest Organizing Project
211 10th Street, SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
T: 505-247-8832
[email protected]