Campus at Boston University in Boston, Mass., November 11, 2021. (Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters)
A Boston University student newspaper editorial board suggested this week that the campus’s “safety issue” could be solved by “outright abolishing” the campus police.
“From their own public statements to their racist history and present, it is clear the BUPD is not designed, nor does it seem willing, to protect all students on campus. Defunding this institution — or outright abolishing it — and creating new services in its wake that better address student and community needs may actually improve student safety,” the editorial board of the Daily Free Press wrote in an editorial on Wednesday.
The editorial, first reported by Fox News, goes on to note that “abolition requires that we create more community services that would address people’s needs and community safety.”
“To put it simply, you would always have someone to call — the number would just be different,” the editorial said. “For instance, BU could increase funding for Scarlet SafeWalk, a program in which students escort anyone feeling unsafe to their home. BU could create a mental health task force specifically designed to deal with mental health crises and expand funding and resources for BU’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center.”
The editorial board argues that “racist police institutions” cannot create a safe campus, and it claims the campus police department “has an egregious history and present of violence and racism.”
The board detailed several incidents of alleged misconduct by the police, going back several decades.
The editorial mentions the 1984 case of Boston University Police sergeant Kevin Bourque, explaining that Bourque fatally shot an unarmed 19-year-old named Christopher Dignan. Fox News adds context to the claims, citing reporting from the Associated Press in 1985 that reveals an investigation found that Dignan was operating a stolen vehicle and tried to run over Bourque when the officer cornered the vehicle two miles from campus. Bourque then shot and killed Dignan and was later cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident.
The editorial also cites an April incident in which “the BUPD wrestled a Black man to the ground who they suspected had assaulted a student” and says the students who recorded the incident were made uncomfortable by the officers’ use of force.
However, a Boston University spokesperson told the campus newspaper at the time of the incident that the man had been “escorted from 595 Comm. Ave. and directed to leave toward Kenmore Square but instead followed the officer towards Silber Way and became combative and confrontational, including spitting on one officer and pulling his protective mask off.”
Boston University is far from the only private university where students have called to defund or altogether abolish campus police; students at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Chicago made similar demands last year in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
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