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Denver students hold rally against police injustice on campus

By staff

SDS protest pushes to disarm and defund the Auraria Campus Police Department.

Denver, CO – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) rallied here April 29, as a part of their campaign to disarm and defund the Auraria Campus Police Department.

SDS has been working to disarm and defund ACPD since the summer of 2020. Since then, police funds on campus actually did go down by 6%, but when compared to a 9.7% general budget cut due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the police are actually receiving a larger percentage of the total budget – despite only one in three classes being held on campus.

SDS demonstrations on campus were cited by the police as one of the key reasons for the establishment of a Police Advisory Board at the end of 2020. SDS demands were to create a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), but, instead, a toothless advisory board was created.

Kyle Burroughs, of SDS, quoted the ACPD Community Advisory Board’s mission statement in his speech, noting the claim the board has been founded “in an effort to increase dialogue.” Burroughs stated, “The main problem is that the mass demand surrounding police is not to increase dialogue, but, rather, to allow for punitive consequences for bad police, to prevent police violence, to put an end to racist policing and police injustice, and, ultimately, to have community control of the police.”

Further language in the Community Advisory Board’s mission statement indicates that the non-democratically elected appointees will “make recommendations,” “provide feedback,” “address topics,” and “generate new ideas or solutions for consideration” by the ACPD. The rally renewed the demands by SDS to establish a CPAC in place of the Advisory Board for the ultimate goals of disarming and defunding ACPD. Burroughs spoke on this, saying “The relationship between the police and campus community should be one where the campus community has complete control over the police, not one where the community has ‘open dialogue’ or ‘discussion’ or ‘suggestions for consideration.’”

Further concerns about the activities of the ACPD were addressed by Burroughs in his speech, who spoke of a Black SDS member experiencing the problems of police injustice firsthand after being banned from campus for voicing dissent against the police on his social media. The police went as far as obtaining a warrant to search the student’s home for weapons only to find nothing there. Even after winning his court case, the student is still banned from campus and has to attend weekly meetings with the dean which he has described as “belittling” and “dehumanizing,” and he says his experience is one of racial bias on the part of the university.

The ACPD enjoys a $4.2 million budget. It is unwilling to disclose what its expenditures are, even after students attempted to gain this information via the Colorado Open Records Act. It was deemed “contrary to public interests” to tell the public what weapons were held by the campus police. The police can apparently lie and withhold information from the community, but the community gets punished for speaking out against the police.

SDS has resolved to continue fighting for CPAC on campus and in the surrounding community. Disarming and defunding are the main demands of the campus community surrounding the police and establishing community control of the police would get the campus closer to those demands.

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