Pilsen talks school safety after Benito Juarez


CHICAGO — During a week of healing, students at Benito Juarez Community Academy and their parents spoke up on the issue of school safety.

“I would say hi to him in class and the day of, I had the last class with him before we were released,” said Jesse Rodriguez, a sophomore at Benito Juarez, of Brendon Perez — one of the victims of the shooting. “I couldn’t even imagine that would be the last time I would see him.”

Jesse’s father, Jose, said he feels there should be a Chicago police officer parked outside the school every day, and that the school should have better security cameras.

Local officials disagree with that idea, though.

“Adding CPD to public schools is not the right thing to do,” said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) during a 2020 school board meeting. “It’s immoral, it is wrong.”

At the time, a social movement protesting police violence was sweeping the nation — and locally — a debate took place over whether Chicago Public Schools should remove School Resource Officers.

Sigcho-Lopez still feels today that resources for Benito Juarez should go toward mental health services and conflict resolution.

“We must have a serious conversation about safety that goes beyond the rhetoric of putting more SRO’s [in schools],” Sigcho-Lopez said.

Sigcho-Lopez said he is calling for a meeting with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor JB Pritzker to discuss the issue of school safety.

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