Petition to End Penn Police State Collusion

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Dear Dr. Gutmann, Deans, and members of the Board of Trustees,

The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others continue to bring into focus the racist fascist police state that exists in the U.S. As members of the Penn community, we stand in solidarity with our comrades protesting this state on the streets of Minneapolis, Brunswick, Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia, and the rest of the country. Moreover, we stand against the manner in which this police state is institutionalized at the University of Pennsylvania, which includes racially-biased surveillance, reporting, arrest practices, the advocacy of militarized models of campus policing, and the implementation of policing measures that cut Penn off from the communities surrounding it. Specifically, we demand that the University immediately:

  • Open the campus, and all its buildings, to the community, given the fact that we have a large geographical footprint in the diverse neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Restricting this community’s access to the campus through overzealous policing and security measures enunciates a racist relationship with the community that must stop. 
  • Cease the racialized practice of broadcasting on university email and texts, the so-called commission of crimes in the university area, given the fact that crimes committed by predominantly white university students on campus do not warrant the same levels of scrutiny and publicity.
  • Ban the use of guns on campus by the university police force,
    Form an investigative team comprising students and faculty of color, that will examine every instance of a person of color being stopped and frisked by the university police.
  • Deploy that investigative team to review the policies and training practices of the university police.
  • Ban the box in the admissions process, given the fact that the city of Philadelphia is a ban-the-box city. The practice of criminal background checks by employers and the associated practice of mandatory revelations by candidates were banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the University’s continuation of these practices extends the police surveillance system to campus.
  • Ensure that the right to privacy, confidentiality, and freedom from police/judicial surveillance and interrogation be strictly preserved for those who seek the services of the university when they engage with its hospitals, service providers, and clinical student interns.
  • Pay the property taxes that the university owes the city of Philadelphia. The development of quality public education is thwarted, and the school-to-prison pipeline strengthened, when geographically massive entities such as Penn do not pay these taxes.
  • Divest completely from corporations like Philadelphia-based Aramark that profit from the prison industrial complex,
  • Cease immediately, all support of, and associations with police unions and organizations that support the implementation of militarized policing in our communities. 

The violent police state is alive and well in Philadelphia, and we believe that the University is fully complicit in the structural conditions that have led to the lynchings of Black men, women, and transgender people in our communities. It is time for Penn to demonstrate that it is serious about divesting from this regime of violence.