Smoking Guns or Smoke & Mirrors?: Schools and the Policing of Latino Boys

  • Victor M. Rios
  • Mario G. Galicia


One October morning in 2009, as one of the authors of this article, Mario Galicia, was driving to a local high school where we were collecting field notes, surveys and interviews for a larger research project following gang-associated youths across institutional settings, he received a phone call from Richard, the gang- intervention program coordinator for the youths whom we were studying. Richard asked Mario to meet him across the street in a supermarket parking lot, instead of the usual meeting place on campus. He exclaimed, “The campus has been placed on lockdown!” Upon arriving, Mario noticed that the shopping center parking lot was filled with a dozens of middle-aged white adults, mostly females in mini-vans and a handful in luxury sedans. Two local television news vehicles were also at the scene. Most of the people in the parking lot looked distraught as they stared towards the school. One of the white women was crying hysterically as she talked on the phone. “I think there is a shooter in the school...I don’t know what to do!” She was the mother of one of the students at the school.