Letter from PSU SSW Faculty and Staff to #DisarmPSU

The following letter signed by over 100 PSU School of Social Work Faculty and Staff was sent today to Present Percy and the PSU Board of Trustees. 

Dear President Percy and the Portland State University Board of Trustees, 

As members of the PSU School of Social Work, we were glad to see our University’s recent communication supporting Minnesota and Georgia, and the calls for racial justice following the police killing of George Floyd. While it is important to acknowledge these deaths, we must also be accountable for the ways that PSU has been and continues to be complicit with these same violent systems through the presence of armed police on campus. We believe PSU must go further by interrupting our role in perpetuating terror and state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Specifically, we are repeating our demand to #DisarmPSU.    

Faculty, staff, and students of the SSW have been unwavering in our stance against arming campus officers, issuing our first statement in opposition in October 2014. Since the Board of Trustees’ decision in December 2014 to arm CPSO, we’ve worked alongside students, staff and faculty in the campus-wide #DisarmPSU movement. We repeated the call to #DisarmPSU following the killing of Jason Washington by CPSO in 2018.  

Calls to divest from policing are mounting across the country as a result of the nationwide demonstrations following the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Last week the University of Minnesota ended its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department. The ongoing violence against Black communities and the militarized response of the Portland Police Bureau to protests against police brutality prompts us to repeat our previous demands to #DisarmPSU. We repeat this demand echoing the Joint Statement from AAUP, PSUFA, and GEU. We stand in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter Portland’s demand that we #DisarmPSU and in local calls to divest from policing in schools, including Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty’s demand to remove Security Resource Officers from Portland Public Schools.  

To #DisarmPSU entails an immediate and permanent disarmament of CPSO. Arming CPSO has been costly. In the moment when workers across campus are furloughed, we echo our colleagues’ questions about why this furlough excluded CPSO. Maintaining armed officers is not the only solution to our challenges to public safety. We call on PSU Administration and the Board of Trustees to implement non-police alternatives to policing outlined in  PSU Student Union’s counter proposal to the Margolis-Healy report, including bystander intervention workshops, and developing crisis intervention teams to respond to the needs of unhoused members of our campus. These models exist on campus (e.g. Illuminate, a sexual violence prevention program, and Students United for Nonviolence, in Conflict Resolution), and in our broader community (e.g. Eugene’s CAHOOTS program, which responds to unhoused people in crisis not with police, but teams of medics and crisis workers).  

In this critical moment, when we are continuing to see the deep impacts of state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism, it is not enough to just state our values and intentions.  We must act. #DisarmPSU #BlackLivesMatter 

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