U. of C. stu­dents, for 5th day, urge provost to de­fund cam­pus po­lice

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MADE­LINE KEN­NEY, STAFF RE­PORTER mken­ney@sun­times.com | @MadKen­ney

At least three dozen Univer­sity of Chicago stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered Wed­nes­day for the fifth day protest­ing out­side of Provost Ka Yee Lee’s Hyde Park home, con­tin­u­ing their push to abol­ish the Univer­sity of Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment.

“We are stu­dents, talk to us” and “We de­mand jus­tice” were some of the many mes­sages writ­ten in chalk on the side­walk and street out­side Lee’s home, where pro­test­ers have stood their ground through rain and sun­shine since Satur­day.

Or­ga­nizer Ali­cia Hur­tado, a rising thirdyear stu­dent, said the univer­sity’s po­lice depart­ment “in­tim­i­dates, bru­tal­izes and ul­ti­mately makes Black peo­ple both on and off cam­pus feel un­safe.”

That’s why, she said, the univer­sity must de­fund its po­lice depart­ment, which is one of the largest pri­vate po­lice forces in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to South Side Weekly.

“[Lee is] re­fus­ing to ac­knowl­edge that by tout­ing UCPD as a force of safety, she’s ad­mit­ting that to her safety means that we can jeop­ar­dize the safety of oth­ers — it’s safety for a few rather than safety for all,” said Hur­tado, who’s study­ing so­ci­ol­ogy and com­par­a­tive race and eth­nic stud­ies.

Hur­tado, a mem­ber of stu­dent groups CareNotCop­s and UChicago United, said the protest will con­tinue un­til ad­min­is­tra­tors agree to have a pub­lic meet­ing with them to dis­cuss the pro­test­ers’ pro­posal to abol­ish the univer­sity’s po­lice depart­ment.

Or­ga­niz­ers are ask­ing the univer­sity to re­al­lo­cate that fund­ing to help stu­dents of color and eth­nic stud­ies. They would also like the univer­sity to build “safe stu­den­tled” cul­tural cen­ters for stu­dents of color.

“We’re willing to stay un­til our de­mands are met, we’re se­ri­ous,” Hur­tado said. “We’re se­ri­ous about this. We’re willing to jeop­ar­dize our­selves in or­der for our univer­sity, for our com­mu­nity to be on the right side of his­tory.”

In­dia Jackson, a mem­ber of GoodKids MadCity, said this is a per­sonal move­ment for her be­cause she lives in Hyde Park.

“I can never walk around my neigh­bor­hood with­out be­ing hounded by UCPD,” Jackson said. “I can count on all my fin­gers and toes how many times I’ve went gro­cery shop­ping trailed by UCPD cars. I just want to get gro­ceries, what the f--- are you hound­ing me for?”

In a state­ment, the univer­sity said it had re­peat­edly of­fered for Lee to meet with the protest or­ga­niz­ers, dat­ing back to their June 11 oc­cu­pa­tion of UCPD head­quar­ters, but they’ve re­fused to con­vene un­less it’s in a pub­lic fo­rum.

“They have re­jected a con­struc­tive di­a­logue about their con­cerns and the UCPD,” Lee said in a state­ment.

The univer­sity said it is meet­ing with a range of peo­ple from across cam­pus and in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties “en­com­pass­ing a wide range of views on pub­lic safety is­sues.” They plan to share the re­sults of the dis­cus­sions dur­ing a pub­lic town hall.


The rally Wed­nes­day out­side of Univer­sity of Chicago’s Provost Ka Ye Lee’s home.

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