Members of the University of Pennsylvania community are demanding the school stop “its institutional support of a ‘racist, fascist police state'” in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the protests/riots which followed.
A petition titled “End Penn Police State Collusion” currently has a little over 10,000 signatures out of a 15,000 goal. It states in part
[W]e stand against the manner in which this police state is institutionalized at the University of Pennsylvania, which includes racially-biased surveillance, reporting, arrest practices, the advocacy of militarized models of campus policing, and the implementation of policing measures that cut Penn off from the communities surrounding it.
And because a student petition wouldn’t be much without a set of demands, those come next … nine of them, in fact. They include
— “Open[ing] the campus, and all its buildings, to the community” (because not doing so is racist).
— “Cease the racialized practice of broadcasting on university email and texts the ‘so-called commission of crimes'” (because allegedly white students don’t get the same police scrutiny as others).
— Ban the use of firearms by university police.
— Establish a “commission” comprised of black faculty and students that will investigate “every instance of a person of color being stopped and frisked by the university police.”
— “Ban the box” for admissions to Penn.
— Penn needs to pay city property taxes because without them, “development of quality public education is thwarted.”
The petition concludes thusly: “The violent police state is alive and well in Philadelphia, and we believe that the University is fully complicit in the structural conditions that have led to the lynchings of Black men, women, and transgender people in our communities.”
According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, petition originator Toorjo Ghose, a School of Social Policy & Practice professor, said “Is Penn racist? That’s what it comes down to. Because racism is not just about going out and shooting people on the streets. Racism is about how you put those guns in the hands of the police to be able to do that. And Penn does that.”
Ghose, who noted he began the petition because he felt Penn’s response to George Floyd’s killing was inadequate, added that the Philadelphia Police Department is “the primary organization that implements militarized policing” in the city. He cited as evidence their mere presence at the Floyd “protests.”
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