AAADS/IRAAS Statement on Police Siege and Occupation of Campus

The African American and African Diaspora Studies Department, and Institute for Research in African American Studies unequivocally condemn the police siege of the Columbia University campus on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, and the ongoing occupation by the New York City Police Department, invited by university leadership. This action is causing profound harm and breaking the bonds of trust.

Police on campus makes us less, not more, safe[i]. Research, and lived experience—especially of Black students, staff, faculty, and of those who are undocumented, makes this abundantly clear[ii]. Choosing their own safety and rebuking the choice of Columbia University’s leadership, many of our community members are boycotting the Morningside campus until police are uninvited. In a first step on the long trail back from broken trust: university leadership must remove police from our campus and neighborhood.

Columbia University in the City of New York, like all universities, should be a place of learning and exploration for its students, faculty, staff, and community-- in service to, not as a colonial master of, the world.

Founded alongside our neighbors in the surrounding community, the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department, and Institute for Research in African American Studies have an especially strong commitment to our home, the Village of Harlem[iii]. We continue to stand with our students, and people of conscience throughout the world— against the utterly unjustifiable attacks against our communities; for free speech, and toward truly keeping publics safe[iv].


[i] See especially:

 

Purnell, Derecka. Becoming abolitionists: Police, protests, and the pursuit of freedom. Astra Publishing House, 2022;

Kaba, Mariame. We do this' til we free us: Abolitionist organizing and transforming justice. Vol. 1. Haymarket Books, 2021;

Dizon, J.P.M., Salazar, Maritza E., Yucel, Elif, Lopez, Edgar Fidel, “Campus Policing: A Guide for Higher Education Leaders,” Pullias Center for Higher Education, Rossier School of Education, University of California, 2020, https://pullias.usc.edu/download/campus-policing-a-guide-for-higher-education-leaders/

Ritchie, Andrea J. Invisible no more: Police violence against Black women and women of color. Beacon press, 2017;

Kelley, Robin DG, Anjali Kamat, Arun Kundnani, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Vijay Prashad, Alex S. Vitale, Alex Sanchez et al. Policing the planet: Why the policing crisis led to Black Lives Matter. Verso Books, 2016.

[ii] See especially:

Engram Jr, Frederick V. "Why Are There Cops Here? How Anti-Blackness Increases Police Interactions on White College Campuses." In International Forum of Teaching and Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 13-59. American Scholars Press, Inc., 2023;

Campbell, Felicia, and Pamela Valera. "“The only thing new is the cameras”: A study of US college students’ perceptions of police violence on social media." Journal of Black Studies 51, no. 7 (2020): 654-670;

Watkins, Grace. "'Cops Are Cops': American Campus Police and the Global Carceral Apparatus." Comparative American Studies An International Journal 17, no. 3-4 (2020): 242-256;

Rodríguez, Dylan. "Beyond" Police Brutality": Racist State Violence and the University of California." American Quarterly 64, no. 2 (2012): 301-313;

Smith, W. A., Allen, W. R., & Danley, L. L. (2007). “Assume the Position . . . You Fit the Description”: Psychosocial Experiences and Racial Battle Fatigue Among African American Male College Students. American Behavioral Scientist, 51(4), 551-578. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764207307742

[iii] https://afamstudies.columbia.edu/iraas/history

[iv] https://afamstudies.columbia.edu/news/aaadsiraas-statement-support-students