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Students protest Tulane University Police Department

By Paola Pinto

Student activists leave banner at Tulane university's front steps.

New Orleans, LA – On November 16, about 30 students gathered on Tulane University’s campus in protest. The recently formed Abolish TUPD led the action, calling for a campus without police. Rallying at the campus entrance, the group created a paper chain with reasons to abolish the Tulane University Police Department (TUPD). They taped it to the front doors of Gibson Hall, the school administrative building. An unidentified employee tore it down the next morning.

“I like how the protest went. I really liked the energy. I think we got our voices out there and said we had to say,” said Paola Pinto, a student organizer with Abolish TUPD. “I feel like the next immediate goal is to actually have a conversation with administration and see where that goes. I think for us to get there, we’re going to need more action and more presence to get them to take us seriously.”

Abolish TUPD publicly released its demands on October 24. These include the total eradication of TUPD. The group also calls for Tulane to cut ties with the New Orleans police department and university partners that profit from prisons and police. Abolish TUPD also demands the creation of a Citizen Police Accountability Council, or CPAC. This council takes inspiration from the work of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. It would control TUPD, dismantle it, and redistribute its $9 million budget. TUPD has the eighth largest college police budget in the country, even though the university has just over 14,000 people. CPAC would reinvest these funds to benefit students who are Black, indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and first-generation low-income. Students of oppressed nationalities, like BIPOC students, would lead the CPAC.

“I feel like abolishing TUPD is a commitment to investing in better alternatives for students,” said Antonia Mar, a protest attendee. “Honestly, the police department is grossly large for such a small university. It’s just to protect their wealth. Meanwhile, there are a lot of students who go there who desperately need resources and aren’t getting them. To be clear, that’s Black students, low-income, first-generation students and all students who benefit from mental health services.”

“Tulane employing a privatized and systemically racist police force as a PWI [predominantly white institution] in a predominantly Black community is an act of racial terror and should be unequivocally condemned,” said Uma Kumar-Montei, another organizer with Abolish TUPD. “We realize that true abolition demands action that goes beyond just destruction, and that resource and wealth redistribution, building networks, and learning about how we can help and support each other are also necessary tenets of abolition.”

As of December 3, Tulane’s administration has still not responded to Abolish TUPD’s list of demands.

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