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When police grappled Eric Garner into a chokehold and left him to die in the street on July 17, it wasn’t just one Staten Island cop that incited protest. The entire ”broken windows” system of policing was again thrown into question – particularly because its architect, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, had been reappointed to a second term just seven months earlier by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Perhaps less known is the fact that the “broken windows” theory has crept into classrooms in New York City and across the nation.
As the policing theory goes, minor instances of supposed disorder — spraying graffiti, panhandling, selling single cigarettes – creates an environment of lawlessness, leading to acts of theft and murder. Busting jaywalkers and homeless people for misdemeanors, it follows, will decrease the homicide rate. Some of the fastest-growing charter school networks explicitly draw on Bratton’s law enforcement methods to run their schools, which typically enroll mostly black and brown students.