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Florida State students stand against police militarization

By Zachary Schultz

Florida State students protest police militarization

Tallahassee, FL – Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led a protest against the militarization of the Florida State University Police Department (FSU-PD) at the steps of the Westcott administration building on Jan 27. Students called for the university to return the military weapons it acquired through the controversial 1033 Procurement Program. This program allows for local and state police departments to acquire surplus military weaponry and vehicles from the Department of Defense for a discounted cost. Students held signs reading “Money for education not militarization,” and “Campus is not a warzone.”

Regina Joseph led the student protest and riled the crowd with a chant of, “No justice, no peace, no military police!”

“We have seen various police departments militarize their police forces to brutally suppress peaceful protests across the nation and intimidate everyday people. We fear that the militarization of the FSU-PD could lead to similar results. Our campus is not a warzone,” said Shivani Ehsan, representing Tallahassee Dream Defenders.

After several rousing speeches by student organizers, the crowd marched into the administration building to deliver their demands directly to university President John Thrasher. Although the administration attempted to make the students leave, they stood firm until the president came out to meet with them. Thrasher refused the student's demands or to answer any questions regarding police militarization.

“John Thrasher was quite unequipped for dealing with our concerns. He said he sided with FSU-PD yet couldn't articulate to us his opinion about military grade weapons and why FSU has felt the need to purchase them. I think the concerns of the student body should have been taken into account before these weapons were purchased. He has failed to allow us to express our opinion through open forums, which he promised at the beginning of his presidency,” explained SDS activist Savannah Hawk.

To continue the campaign, students are submitting a referendum on police militarization to the Student Government Association ballot and are gearing up for a teach-in on the history of police militarization.

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