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Duke Students Demand Campus Policing Be Abolished, Say It’s Rooted In ‘Slave Patrols’
Seth Lejaq, a first year writing teacher at Duke University, holds up a sign while protesters joined outside the venue where former National Security Advisor John Bolton will discuss the "current threats to national security" during a forum moderated by Peter Feaver, the director of Duke's American Grand Strategy, at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina.
Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

A student organization at Duke University called the Black Coalition Against Policing has demanded the university abolish its police department, claiming policing is “inherently rooted in white supremacy.”

The College Fix reported on the nine-page letter sent earlier this month by the coalition to the school’s administration and board of trustees demanding the abolishment of the university’s police department.

“Let us state this unequivocally: originating in slave patrols, policing is inherently rooted in white supremacy and cannot be reformed,” the letter said. “Now, we must imagine a world beyond police and prisons, one that seeks to heal and rebuild our communities from generations of systemic violence.”

The signees said college students across the country have made similar demands, specifically noting that the University of Minnesota “cut ties” with the city’s police department.

“While we call on Duke University to take similar action and cut ties with city police, we recognize that this is only a first step and is not nearly enough. Duke and other colleges must also grapple with their own history of police violence by examining the role of University law enforcement both on and off campus. The Duke University Police Department (DUPD)—the 13th largest campus law enforcement agency in the country by full-time employment—has a record of violence against Black and LGBT+ students and Durham residents,” the letter said before pointing out five examples of police brutality over the past sixty years, all of which took place before any current undergrads began attending Duke and many of which likely took place before anyone working in the current campus police department was even on the job.

The letter went on to note more recent examples of campus police taking actions against students – for breaking the law, including trespassing.

More from the Fix:

The coalition called on the university to sever all “ties to all systems predicated on policing and imprisonment.”

This includes disclosing any financial ties to organizations associated with the “military and prison-industrial complex,” including relationships with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Black Coalition Against Policing also demands that the university sever ties with the Durham Police Department and Allied Universal, a private security contractor working on Duke’s campus since 2005. BCAP also requests that Duke end its ties with any other police and surveillance agencies.

The Duke University Campus Police Department told the school’s student newspaper that the department wants to work with students to address concerns.

“The campus police has the same goal as others—a safe and just community that allows Duke University to provide education, research and healthcare that helps the world,” Duke University Police Chief John Dailey told the The Chronicle. “Being open to listening, to understanding and to changing for the good of Duke is central to what we do.”

A Duke spokesman also told the outlet that the school was “reviewing the [letter] and will engage directly with the student organizations involved.”

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