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Saying policing is rooted in ‘slave patrols,’ Duke students demand all campus policing be abolished

Students say all policing is ‘inherently rooted in white supremacy’

Duke University’s Black Coalition Against Policing is demanding that Duke abolishes the university’s police department, arguing that all policing is “inherently rooted in white supremacy.”

The coalition sent a nine-page letter to the administration and board of trustees on July 8 calling for the abolition of the Duke University police department.

The letter was signed by over 50 groups, including the Asian American Alliance, the Black Law Students Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Pre-Veterinary Society. An accompanying petition in support of the demands has nearly 1,000 signatures from alumni, students and community members.

“Let us state this unequivocally: originating in slave patrols, policing is inherently rooted in white supremacy and cannot be reformed,” the letter states in its introduction. “Now, we must imagine a world beyond police and prisons, one that seeks to heal and rebuild our communities from generations of systemic violence.”

The coalition called on the university to sever all “ties to all systems predicated on policing and imprisonment.”

This includes disclosing any financial ties to organizations associated with the “military and prison-industrial complex,” including relationships with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Black Coalition Against Policing also demands that the university sever ties with the Durham Police Department and Allied Universal, a private security contractor working on Duke’s campus since 2005. BCAP also requests that Duke end its ties with any other police and surveillance agencies.

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The coalition claims in its letter that the Duke police has a record of targeted harassment against minority students and cites a survey of 300 students by an allied group called Duke Beyond Policing, which quotes alleged incidents of police harassment of students.

The Black Coalition Against Policing declined to share a copy of the survey and declined to answer questions from The College Fix, including possible consequences of ending the campus police department.

The Durham Police Department declined to comment to The College Fix, writing in an email that the department does “not have any information to add at this time.”

The Duke University Campus Police Department did not return requests for comment from The College Fix, however, it told The Chronicle that the department is open to working with the students.

“The campus police has the same goal as others—a safe and just community that allows Duke University to provide education, research and healthcare that helps the world,” Duke University police department Chief John Dailey told the student newspaper, The Chronicle. “Being open to listening, to understanding and to changing for the good of Duke is central to what we do.”

But that might not happen, since the Black Coalition Against Policing has said it does not want to reform the police department.

“Reformist policies often legitimize racist systems in the first place by asserting that the stems of the issue can be amended without addressing the root cause,” it said in the letter. “Thus, we as a collective are not interested in reformist ideals.”

Duke University did not respond to requests for comment from The College Fix on if the university has been in contact with the Black Coalition Against Policing or what its stance is on the demands.

A spokesperson for the university told the The Chronicle that the university is in the process of “reviewing the statement and will engage directly with the student organizations involved.”

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IMAGE: Policemen/Shutterstock

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Landon Mion - Kennesaw State University