By AARON GETTINGER
Roughly 100 University of Chicago students are protesting the University’s police department, the UCPD, and its mental healthcare capacities roughly two months after the shooting of Charles Thomas. Protesters have set up an encampment on the Main Quadrangle, promising to stay until either Provost Daniel Diermeier agrees to their demands or until 10 a.m. Saturday.
The protest is coinciding with the University’s annual Alumni Weekend. Protesters, who had marched to the quad from Alumni House, 5555 S. Woodlawn Ave., with banners reading “U. of C. Kills” and “Care Not Cops,” later moved their demonstration next to the event’s beer garden.
“We believe that police do not keep us safe,” said U. of C. student Tunisia Tai in a statement. “Policing, especially private policing, is an inherently violent system, and investing in that system escalates rather than heals intra-community violence. We’re building Camp #CareNotCops because the University refuses to invest in real community safety for all, so it’s on us to do it ourselves.”
“The shooting of Charles Thomas on April 6 was not an isolated incident,” said Alyssa Rodriguez, another U. of C. student, in a statement. “UCPD has a long history of harassing, assaulting, and endangering students and residents of Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, and Washington Park, most of whom have no connection to the University. At the same time, both UChicago and the city of Chicago refuse to invest in mental health resources.”
Protesters, coordinated by the student groups UChicago United and UChicago Student Action, are demanding fully funded mental healthcare resources both for the U. of C. and the surrounding community, greater transparency from the UCPD and its subjugation to Freedom of Information Act requests, the establishment of an Independent Review Committee and a funding and capacity reduction of the UCPD, including its disarmament.