Denver SDS marches to campus police station, demands withdrawal from Pentagon 1033 Program
Denver, CO – On August 31, two dozen students and community members marched to the Auraria Campus Police Department to demand the end of their participation in the Pentagon 1033 Program, which provides military grade weapons to domestic law enforcement agencies. Other demands included the defunding and demilitarization of ACPD by surrendering their weapons. The march was led by Denver Students for a Democratic Society. They were joined by the Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee, Movimiento Poder, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Around 4 p.m., the crowd gathered for communal sign making before the march. Protesters carried signs reading, “Black lives matter,” “Buy books, not bombs” and “Demilitarize our campus.” The message across the board was loud and clear: a call for a safe campus, free from armed police with the power and tools to terrorize.
The action began with a speech from a member of Denver SDS before the march moved to the Auraria campus police station. In one moment, Brandon Gehrke, president of Denver SDS said, “ACPD lied to us when one of their officers told us they did not receive weapons from the 1033 Program. They said they wouldn’t admit to what weapons they have in their arsenal for the purpose of public safety. How can students trust the police when they tell lies?”
On April 8, members of SDS attended a meeting of the ACPD Community Advisory Board to get answers to a simple question: Will ACPD end their participation in the Pentagon 1033 Program and surrender their weapons? They were met with bureaucratic obstruction and lies from the police.
As the students waited to take part in the public comment portion of the meeting, that part of the meeting was cut short before everyone could speak and ask questions of ACPD. So as the meeting drew to a close, members of SDS confronted the officers present to ask their simple question. One officer denied any claims that ACPD received any weapons, claiming that as far as he knew the only items they received from that program were such mundane things as golf carts. SDS was skeptical and made a Colorado Open Records Act request to get the answers they were looking for.
Sure enough, the request came back on April 28 with proof, including photographs, that ACPD had received four M16s and ten scopes, one of which was recorded lost, from the 1033 Program. Once again, the cops would rather prioritize control of the community over telling them the truth. SDS will continue organizing around their demands that ACPD remove themselves from the 1033 Program.