Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa, FL Hosts Pastor’s Unity for Youth Dinner to Tackle the Issue of Black Youth Violence, Arrest, and the ‘School to Prison Pipeline’

More than 100 people pack Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa for the Pastor's Unity for Youth Dinner Monday, March 31, 2014. (Photo: WTSP)
More than 100 people pack Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa for the Pastor’s Unity for Youth Dinner Monday, March 31, 2014.
(Photo: WTSP)

More than 100 people from across the color spectrum packed Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa for the Pastor’s Unity for Youth Dinner Monday night.

The topic: the black youth arrest rate, and what black leaders call “the school to prison pipeline.”

Black students are arrested at greater rates than other groups, exceed the rates statewide, and are convicted more than whites and Hispanics, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those in attendance say it’s alarming.

“Our school system is one of the major feeders of incarceration in the state of Florida, and we can’t afford it anymore. $8,000 a year to educate a child, $50,000 a year to incarcerate them. What are we doing?” said Dr. Russell Meyer.

One of the most visible examples of youth injustice is Kiera Wilmot, the Bartow High School honor student who was expelledand faced felony charges for a science experiment gone wrong. She recalled the fear of her experience.

“I actually cried,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘What if I never get to see my sister again? What if I never get to go home? What if I can’t find a job? All those things.”

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Source: WTSP | Charles Billi

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