Hold UCPD Accountable and Invest in Mental Health Resources

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See full list of demands here: https://bit.ly/CareNotCopsDemands

Dear President Robert J. Zimmer,

In your letter on April 4, 2018 to the University of Chicago community, you write of the “paramount importance” of maintaining “community safety, security and well-being.” But, Tuesday night, when a student of color was shot during a mental health crisis, the University of Chicago community was reminded that the UCPD is not here to “serve and protect” the community—the UCPD exists to protect University assets, prestige, and property. UCPD has a long history of deploying excessive force to terrorize both students and community members. In 2010, the UCPD assaulted and arrested a Black student in the main library for “being too loud.” Then, in 2013, the UCPD brutalized a student and three community activists campaigning for a trauma center on the South Side. Last Saturday on March 31, a UCPD officer exited his  vehicle and pulled out his gun on a young, Black, autistic man who had been accused of stealing a few cookies. Outside of these publicized incidents, the UCPD regularly stops, frisks, and questions Black and Brown students and residents who are routinely targeted and racially profiled.

As one of the largest private police forces in the United States, the UCPD has primary jurisdiction over an area that extends from 37th Street on the north to 64th Street on the south and Cottage Grove Avenue to Lake Michigan—around six square miles. Patrolling 65,000 residents, the majority of whom are unconnected to the university, UCPD has full policing powers—meaning they can search, ticket, arrest, and detain—with virtually no accountability. It is evident that the University’s idea of “community safety” is a narrow one. Claiming a commitment to the diversity and inclusion for all, the University neglects to actualize this commitment, time and time again placing marginalized communities at risk through displacement, harassment, and racial profiling.

Since 2012, the University has stonewalled and blocked the efforts of community activists and students to pressure the UCPD to take action. We, as members of the University of Chicago community, refuse to be complicit in a vision of “community safety” that is entrenched in generating harm to so many on the South Side. If the University does not take significant action to end its racist policing practices, we, the undersigned organizations, will commit to stopping student and alumni donations until the University administration adopts our demands. Additionally, we commit to informing prospective students, alumni, and donors of the violent policies and practices of the University. We, as the University of Chicago community, will not be complicit in Tuesday night’s shooting by funding this institution and its policing nor by accepting anything less than the defunding of the UCPD.