Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Students hold protest condemning police activity on campus

Over 80 students attend protest demanding protection for Black students
Kalina Kornacki

On Dec. 11, University of Massachusetts Amherst students gathered outside of the Whitmore Administration Building to protest the UMass Police Department (UMPD), in light of a recent arrest of a Black female undergraduate student.

After chanting outside, participants entered the Whitmore building and delivered a list of demands to Chancellor Javier Reyes’ office. Protesters demanded that “UMass hold abusers accountable” and that the University “defund and abolish the UMPD.”

The protesters also called on UMPD to fire the “officers involved in the mishandling of the recent situation.”

Students then marched through campus, stopping at the Student Union and Campus Center and eventually to the UMPD where they shared testimony, chanted and attempted to deliver their list of demands. However, the doors of the police station had been locked.

Chants included, “Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe” and “Racist cops have got to go,” among others.

Anthropology Ph.D. student Terrell James led the chants outside the police station and voiced his disapproval of the roughly $7 million UMPD budget, which is allocated from the $20 million student affairs budget. James argued for this money to be given to student housing.

“Don’t believe that the cops here are different from cops off campus,” James said.

Some said they attended the protest to support the recent incident of a Black student who alleged being treated unfairly by UMPD during her arrest.

Beth Rogers, an organismic and evolutionary biology Ph.D. student at UMass, said, “I care about keeping UMass students safe and I don’t believe the police are keeping us safe.”

“I would like to see the officers [involved in the arrest] held accountable,” Rogers added.

Other students reiterated that they would like to see the UMPD officers held accountable. “I would like the charges to be dropped against the student who was arrested. I would like UMPD to be defunded and I would like the money that is currently spent on UMass Police to go to services and programs that benefit students and students’ mental health,” said Rogers.

Rogers urged students to participate in more events like this and said, “get involved with organizations that are fighting for police and prison abolition, like the Prison Abolition Collective. For grad students, they can join the GEO Abolition Committee.”

Another student, Derin, a sophomore public health major who did not want their last name included, said, “there isn’t fair treatment towards anybody on campus, especially Black students.”

Describing the presence of UMPD on campus, Derin said, “It doesn’t seem like they have their utmost value at heart or even our lives.”

Similar to Rogers, Derin said, “I do hope that this officer gets charges pressed against him or her.” Additionally, she added that she hoped UMPD is, “more open to hearing testaments,” and are “not being so fast to put someone in jail.”

“I don’t know how we’re supposed to trust them,” Derin remarked.

In response to the doors of UMPD being locked upon the protesters’ arrival, UMass spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski said, “In order to meet its public safety responsibilities to the community, the UMass Police did not permit demonstrators to enter the department’s lobby…UMPD must maintain a safe and secure building for community members.”

Blaguszewski confirmed that the University is in receipt of the protesters’ demands.

Abby Joyce can be reached at [email protected] and Grace Lee can be reached at [email protected].

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