Statement on militarized police/UCPD

“The UCPD is the one of the largest private police forces in the country, with ninety-five officers, $5.5 million in annual funding according to a 2012 Chicago Maroon article (Sainvilus said the number is not “reliable” but declined to provide any further information), and a jurisdiction that extends from South Cottage Grove Avenue to the west to South Lake Shore Drive to the east, reaching from 37th Street to 64th Street. To the 65,000 people that live in this area—the vast majority of whom are not affiliated with the UofC—the UCPD has become a daily presence.” –South Side Weekly

Graduate Students United stands in solidarity with the Minneapolis uprising demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Finan Berhe. We demand an immediate end to police violence against Black people. We stand with the people rightfully taking the streets in Chicago, Atlanta, Louisville, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, and Minneapolis. In Hyde Park, this pattern of violent and racist policing has long characterised the planning, actions, and operations of the University of Chicago Police Department. Every day we remain concerned for the safety of our Black community members when the second-largest private police force in the country runs regular patrols across the neighbourhood, routinely criminalises and stops Black community members, and like police departments nationwide, is completely unaccountable to any form of civic oversight. In 2018, the UCPD shot and arrested Charles Thomas, an undergraduate at the University of Chicago who was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time. When a private university police department shoots students and the university adds charges to criminalise and jail its own students with little remorse or sense that anything needs to be changed – it becomes clear that the only meaningful answer is abolition. It has long been clear that the UCPD is an institution fundamentally unsuited for the public health and community safety work that it is charged with.

The people are speaking loudly and clearly right now. Graduate Students United at the University of Chicago stands with them. Defund, disarm, and disband the University of Chicago Police Department immediately. Invest heavily in affordable housing, mental health, and public health resources to help support our community members as demanded by the Care Not Cops Coalition. We proudly stand in solidarity with the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression; Students Working Against Prisons; the Care Not Cops Coalition; and Black Lives Matter in their righteous demand for justice. Abolition now! Liberation now!

Resources:

Chicago Community Bond Fund: https://chicagobond.org/ 

First Defense Legal Aid: https://www.first-defense.org/ or call 1(800) LAW-REP4

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Chicago: https://nlgchicago.org/

If you or someone you know has been arrested and needs a lawyer to visit them in police custody, contact the Cook County Public Defender at 1 (844) 817-4448

If you or someone you know has been criminally charged and needs legal representation in court, call the National Lawyers Guild at 773-309-1198

Press:

Care Not Cops Op-Ed on UCPD: https://www.chicagomaroon.com/article/2018/5/31/invest-us-case-carenotcops/ 

Minneapolis public schools to vote on terminating contract with MPD: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/05/29/mpls-school-board-director-proposes-to-terminate-contract-with-mpd/