UC Irvine Black Student Union Demands End to Campus Police Department
Saying it loud, proud at UCI.
The campus police
They live inside of my head
The campus police
They come to me in Middle Earth
The campus police
They're coming to arrest me
-Bastardization of Cheap Trick's "Dream Police" in light of recent UCI BSU petition
According to an online petition, the Black Student Union at UC Irvine is demanding the abolition of the campus police department, calling contemporary police forces “modern incarnations of the antebellum plantation and slave patrols."
The demand made via Change.org to UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman and the administrations of UCI and the University of California states, “The problem is that policing as an institution is unethical; it accompanies anti-Black violence.” There were 240 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon toward a goal of only 500.
The BSU demand was set off by alleged interrogations and forced confessions surrounding last year's student government consideration of a ban of all flags, including the American flag, from the student common area.
“A non-deputized Black person could never do the following: hold six right-wing students hostage in an administration building, while violating their civil rights; make police protection from anonymous violence contingent upon them signing a document; and, force these students to apologize for refusing to fly red, black and green Black Liberation flags in their student organizations’ commons,” the petition reads.
Like Rage Against the Machine, the BSU claims some of those who join forces are the same who burn crosses. Today's cops, as did yesterday's KKK "intimidate, imprison, sexually assault, and murder Black people,” according to the petition. This "creates a violent space for students" who should be provided "safe spaces to learn, think, and intellectually grow."
Via UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon came the following statement:
On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Chancellor’s Office received a letter from UCI’s Black Student Union, demanding the abolition of the campus police force. The UCI Police Department comprises a highly respected team of officers who risk their lives to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We are proud of them and will continue to support the department. The letter also makes false, malicious accusations against several staff members, many of whom worked diligently to address the BSU’s earlier demands and advance a safe, comfortable environment for all students. We stand by these dedicated professionals. UCI’s administration, staff and faculty are committed to a diverse, inclusive environment. Significant progress has been achieved, as outlined in the summary linked here: http://inclusion.uci.edu/recent-campus-actions-support-inclusive-excellence. We continue to encourage an open, productive dialogue with BSU and remain dedicated to a campus that is safe, inclusive and celebrates diverse cultures and opinions.
The Weekly could find no contact information for UCI's College Republicans after 2012, so hats off to Campus Reform, which managed to snag a reaction to the BSU petition from Peter Van Voorhis, a member of the conservative student group.
“I feel like they really push the narrative of victimhood to demonize the university,” Van Voorhis said of the black activists to Campus Reform, which describes itself as an American education watchdog and links directly to The Drudge Report. “They’re saying they were being pressured with the threat of losing their lives, so therefore we need to ban the police on campus.”
Labeling it “a pretty baseless attack," Van Voorhis offered, “I think even left-wing students would realize that it’s a little bit insane to call for police to be banned in order to create a safe space for marginalized groups."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts