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More police after protests makes ‘black and brown’ Columbia students feel ‘unsafe’

‘Signals decreased safety for people of color’

Columbia University recently increased the number of NYPD and campus public safety officers in response to Israel-Hamas-related protests, but some “black and brown” students say this makes them fearful.

According to the Columbia Spectator, the Barnard-Columbia Abolition Collective claims it heard from many students that “the presence of police on campus has been extremely triggering and actively makes them feel unsafe.”

The group, which advocates for “community-based models of care and safety” without cops and the “carceral state,” said the move was a “shameful repression tactic” designed to “intimidate” students from further protests.

Black Students Organization Political Chair Nicholas Brown said he’s worried police will “harass, question, and threaten” black and brown students because he dealt with that at his high school. He claimed his ID has twice been “thoroughly checked” at an campus entrance gate, and that an officer once “grabbed [his] arm.”

Brown said white students got through “with only a quick flash of their ID or none at all.”

BSO Vice President Josiah Keys added that “it’s not uncommon for institutions to weaponize the police against BIPOC students.”

MORE: Columbia student groups back Palestinians, demand school cut ties with Israel

From the story:

The Black Law Student Association published a statement on Friday requesting the “immediate reassessment of campus security that acknowledges the safety of Black students as it relates to the NYPD.”

The statement reads, “the dramatic increase in police presence on our campus poses an immediate and pressing concern for the safety of our members. The NYPD has a long and disturbing history of violence against people of color, particularly Black people. This is also true in the context of protest.”

The Black Law Student Association wrote that police presence “signals decreased safety for people of color,” citing that “bias prevails in even Columbia’s own public ‘safety’ officers, as demonstrated by the gross treatment of Alexander McNab in 2019.” …

Nayzak Wali-Ali, Law ’24, a member of the Black Law Student Association, said the administration’s decision to increase police presence is “a fear tactic rather than to maintain safety.”

“Police officers, for communities of color, are correlated with more violence than there is safety. To have that increased number just strolling around while you’re going to class is a really scary feeling,” Wali-Ali said. “And you’re worried whether the things you’re doing can be perceived criminal, even if you’re just going through your life.”

Keys, a sociology and African-American Studies major, added that despite the “negative connotation” of increased law enforcement, it proves “that our efforts are making a difference”: Columbia “only seeks to strike fear into us through increasing policing because we strike fear into them when we use our voices for good.”

MORE: Columbia professor: University presidents ‘cowards’ for silence on ‘pro-terror’ protests

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