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SDS Denver wins a major victory in the fight for police demilitarization

By staff

SDS fights militarization of campus cops.

Denver, CO – After a nearly two year campaign, the Denver chapter of Students for a Democratic Society won a significant milestone in their campaign to demilitarize the campus police. After four months of work plagued with delays and obfuscation by campus administrators, SDS fought to successfully get a resolution passed that takes the power from the Auraria Campus Police from being able to obtain military weapons from the 1033 program – a federal program designed to transfer surplus military equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense to local law enforcement.

The resolution states that the Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD) can no longer accept any weapons, including armored, track-driven, or weaponized vehicles under Section 1033. ACPD would now have to request permission to order this ordinance from the Auraria Board of Directors. The ACPD will have to publicly announce their intentions of obtaining military gear 60 days before the acquisition, with a detailed explanation of what it is they intend to acquire, and host two public forums in which they invite students, faculty and community members of Auraria campus to speak on the proposed acquisition.

This procedure serves as a significant obstacle to any future acquisitions of military weapons or vehicles. SDS first became concerned with the militarization of the ACPD when the students learned that the campus police had previously used this program to obtain several M-16 rifles, the very same used by the U.S. military in Vietnam.

The department will no longer be able to move these weapons of war onto the Auraria campus under the cover of an administration turning a blind eye, but will instead have to expose their intent to militarize to the campus community; a community that has been mobilized around this issue and that have said loud and clear; this campus is not a war zone.

This resolution was won in spite of the Auraria Board of Directors delays and initial refusals to even bring the resolution to a vote. The board tried a variety of tactics to deter those undertaking this campaign, but the SDS employed a diversity of tactics and dynamism that kept the pressure on, leading to the achievement of this milestone. It was through call-ins, speakouts, marches, and disruptions that forced the hand of the board of directors, which led to the board’s passing of the resolution.

The campaign was supported by multiple student and faculty organizations, such as the Anti-Racist Action and Advocacy, the United Campus Workers, the Metropolitan State University Federation of Faculty/AFT, the Auraria Cross Disability Alliance, and the Black Student Alliance.

This win ensures that the members of the Auraria campus can rest easier knowing that the shared campus is now safer for the students and faculty with the previously unchecked access to military weapons and vehicles for the ACPD now under more stringent limitations.

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