Part 8 — A Conclusion (For Now)
I understand why it seems difficult to imagine a future without police in it. The very phrase “abolish the police” seems radical to some because the police have been a fixture in our lives, our parents’ lives, our grandparents’ lives for as long as we can remember. But just because we are used to something doesn’t mean it’s good.
Angela Davis, a prison abolitionist and scholar, often speaks about how imagination can drive social movements — that if we are able to imagine a world outside the oppressive structures we have been tricked into thinking were the only possibilities, we might be able to construct a path to true justice.
This is the last of the series on why we should abolish the Boston University Police Department, but this issue is by no means resolved. I hope that, at the very least, these articles have moved at least one student, or parent or professor, to imagine a campus without a BUPD car ominously patrolling it.
I hope people can see that the proposition to abolish the BUPD is by no means radical or far-fetched. It is more than doable. All we have to do is be willing to try.
To review the facts of the case:
- The BUPD has harassed and stalked Black and Brown students in its past, and continues to do so.
- The BUPD — along with all other campus police departments — is not held to the same accountability or transparency measures as municipal police.
- The BUPD is protected by union measures, meaning no BUPD officer can face real repercussions for police brutality and misconduct. This is why:
- The BUPD, despite being a campus police force, is not “soft” policing. Officers are armed with the same kinds of guns and were trained at the same police academy as municipal police.
- The BUPD mainly investigates stolen unattended property — a crime that can easily be better monitored if more cameras were installed in the upper levels of common places for petty theft on campus.
- The BUPD has an egregious record when it comes to investigating sexual assault, and is known to treat sexual assault survivors terribly.
- There are multiple viable alternatives to campus police, as outlined in the previous part of the series. This includes instituting a task force of mental health professionals dedicated to de-escalating violent situations and dealing with intoxicated students. Additionally, we must expand the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center and Scarlet SafeWalk programs.
If you would like additional information on alternatives to campus police, I recommend you follow and donate to MPD 150, a community-based organization dedicated to a police-free future.
And most importantly,
8. The University Made no Definite or Certain Promise of Safety to its students. Boston University explicitly stated in a court of law that it is not liable or responsible for our safety. Safety has never been something promised or ensured by police presence — a fact Black and Brown students have known all their lives.
BU President Robert Brown announced in June a new advisory group designed to strengthen the relationship between the BU community and the BUPD. The committee will also make suggestions for improving the department’s policies and procedures.
The only way forward is for it to abolish the BUPD entirely.
This council’s entire purpose must be dedicated to constructing and funding alternatives to the BUPD, including groups dedicated to helping students with substance abuse and mental health problems.
The BU School of Theatre Anti-Racist Student Initiative has outlined a list of demands in response to the racism BU supports and enacts each day. Sign and share their letter here.
College of Engineering junior Emma Ly wrote an incredible letter with a list of demands for the University to address — demands that involve the systemic racism the University perpetuates on campus and within Boston itself.
Pressure BU to abolish BUPD. Send an email to Brown demanding that he listen to students and abolish an institution that is corrupting our campus and community.
We can no longer sit complacently in the midst of injustice. We can no longer use ignorance or lack of information as an excuse for continual violence and discrimination. The facts and evidence are all here: BUPD’s time is up.