Denver SDS demands demilitarization of campus police
Denver, CO – On Wednesday, October 26, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) attended the Auraria Board of Directors meeting on Auraria campus to demand that the Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD) withdraw from the Federal 1033 program. The 1033 program, also called the LESO Excess Property Program, allows ACPD to acquire military weapons and other equipment from the Department of Defense. There are currently over 8000 police departments, including many campus police departments, participating in this program.
In addition to calling for the demilitarization of ACPD, SDS also demanded that all funds previously allocated to the 1033 program be reallocated to support social support services for the campus community. Activists stressed the dangers that a militarized campus police force poses to students. SDS was supported in their demands by a progressive group of faculty and staff called Anti-Racist Advocacy and Action.
“The reason we care about police militarization on campus is because we understand what the history of militarization looks like. May 4, 1970 Kent State students were protesting the Vietnam War and were slaughtered by the National Guard,” said SDS member Paul Nelson. Nelson went on to explain the origins of campus police departments as tools to suppress student activists in the 1960s. Nelson listed other incidents of state violence against students in Orangeburg and South Carolina State, making it clear that campus police do not make students safer and are often the perpetrators of violence against students.
The board members refused to take action regarding the militarization of police on campus. Currently, SDS has gathered over 500 signatures supporting their demands and will continue to fight for the demilitarization of ACPD to create a safe, welcoming campus for all.