Appleton, WI: Lawrence University students rally for justice for George Floyd, Joel Acevedo
Appleton, WI – On March 8, Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis-based police officer, began his trial for the brutal killing of George Floyd. On this same day, Michael Mattioli, a Milwaukee-based police officer, began his trial for the murder of Joel Acevedo.
In the early afternoon, the newly-established Lawrence University Students for a Democratic Society chapter (LU-SDS) hosted an on-campus demonstration, which centered on the demand to convict Chauvin and Acevedo of murder. Despite the less-than-ideal timing for this action with finals right around the corner, it was attended by over 40 students and supported by representatives from two other student organizations, the Lawrence Liberation Front and Sunrise Appleton.
Although the convictions were the principal concerns of the demonstrators, LU-SDS also advocated for their broader objectives to defund the police and implement civilian-controlled police accountability councils (CPAC).
“This level of community control would finally allow law enforcement to become subject to the will of the people!” said Terrence Freeman, the chair and co-founder of LU-SDS. “We, the people, must control the police. And we’ve got to ensure that the days in which the police control and oppress us are long gone.”
Similarly, Earl Simons, the deputy chair and co-founder of LU-SDS, demanded policing reforms which “actually work for the people and are made by the people!” He argued for change that “isn’t something that is announced one day and proves to have failed the next because another brother or sister has died!”
Freeman declared that we must replace our inherently racist police departments with “a system that actually meets the needs of the masses.” “This is the kind of action LU SDS is for,” he said, “We don’t want ineffectual policing reforms. We’ve already seen where those get us. They get us nowhere. We need revolutionary change!”
“The police force is more of a gang than a public service,” said Gustavo Zuniga, a representative of the Lawrence Liberation Front (LLF) who attended the action. “They create collectible coins commemorating their brutal repression of the protests in June. They unite under their own flag and unite under their own interests, not the interests of the people they are meant to serve.”
Anders Hanhan, a member of Sunrise Appleton, discussed the role that the youth must play in the movement, “If we want to hold police officers accountable, we the young people of America must make it so. If we want to defund the police, we, the young people of America must make it so!”
LU-SDS, together with LLF and Sunrise Appleton, hopes to build off this successful rally by continuing to invigorate the progressive movement in both Lawrence University and the greater Appleton community.