Virginia Commonwealth University: Defund VCUPD

Virginia Commonwealth University

Img_0187-1

We do not tolerate superficial reforms and empty promises in the face of police violence. We demand Virginia Commonwealth University to:

  • Defund VCUPD.

    • We are calling for the defunding and abolishment of VCU’s Police Department. VCU will sever all ties with any outside policing institutions. VCU will also redirect all funds from VCUPD to mental health services, increasing accessibility for physically disabled people, creating a supportive space for undocumented students, scholarships, grants, and other efforts to prioritize marginalized members of the community.

  • Release the VCUPD budget.

    • We are demanding that VCU release the VCUPD line-item budget from the past 5 years.

  • Remove the LiveSafe App and all forms of student reporting tied to VCUPD.

    • We condemn the usage and promotion of the LiveSafe App. Furthermore, it is not the responsibility of students to assist in the policing and surveillance of students and community members.

  • Ban and Remove ICE On Campus.

    • We demand that VCU does not allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to come to the university and question students. It is essential that VCU protects undocumented and DACA students.

Petition by
Student  Power
Richmond, Virginia

To: Virginia Commonwealth University
From: [Your Name]

At this moment, we acknowledge the continued grief, trauma, and state-sanctioned violence against Brown and Black people. We acknowledge the performative and hypocritical actions, as well as the lack of investment illustrated by the VCUPD and VCU Administration. It has been over 60 days since students and the community members have taken to the streets to call for true justice that puts concerns of the people first and not the pockets of the corporate system that suppresses their voices. Alongside other policing agencies, VCUPD has continuously contributed to violence in our city through the usage of tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets. This violence highlights the brutalization that Richmonders face on a daily basis. VCU has been active in fueling the ideals of white supremacy with the frequent protection of property over the protection of its students, especially BIPOC students. Our university centers its focus on the advertised $100,000 worth of damage, all the while making no efforts to replace, repair, or refurbish the abuse inflicted on the community by VCUPD. Black life does not have a price.

VCUPD not only continues to police our campus but the Richmond community. On July 26th, VCUPD assisted RPD and other departments in transporting those who were unlawfully arrested. VCUPD has militarized warfare and continues to terrorize the Richmond community and VCU students. For many years, VCUPD has failed to protect survivors of sexual violence. VCU has space for the largest campus police force in Virginia but fails to fulfill the national recommendation of mental health professionals. Instead of hiring more mental health professionals, creating support spaces, increasing workers' wages, and funding Black futures, 44% of students' tuition goes towards funding VCUPD, a department that does not protect all people.

In June, VCU implemented a new Public Safety Model, which focuses on reforms such as bias training and workforce realignment. Bias training and body cameras have not stopped police from killing. These reforms do not work because police officers are working within a system that is racist. These systems are set to perpetuate racist policies and approaches for centuries. In 2019, VCUPD expanded its jurisdiction into the Richmond community, including historically Black areas. In that same year, VCUPD conducted 1,643 field interviews (stop and frisk) and nearly 1,000 of those interviews were conducted on Black people. VCUPD has inflicted harm to Black and Indigenous communities, Queer, Trans, Non-Binary, disabled, Brown, and Black people.

VCU has been silent on the injustices in the community. On May 14, 2018, Marcus David Peters was murdered by a Richmond police officer while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. Marcus David Peters was a member of the community and a VCU Alum, yet VCU refuses to acknowledge Marcus David Peters and his family. It was as clear then as it is now that change is long overdue. We stand in solidarity with the family of Marcus David Peters and the Black community.

Therefore, we the students of Virginia Commonwealth University, demand that Virginia Commonwealth University:

1) Defund VCUPD.
We are calling for the defunding and abolishment of VCU’s Police Department. VCU will sever all ties with any outside policing institutions. VCU will also redirect all funds from VCUPD to mental health services, increasing accessibility for physically disabled people, creating a supportive space for undocumented students, scholarships, grants, and other efforts to prioritize marginalized members of the community.

2) Release the VCUPD budget.
We are demanding that VCU release the VCUPD line-item budget from the past 5 years.

3) Remove the LiveSafe App and all forms of student reporting tied to VCUPD.
We condemn the usage and promotion of the LiveSafe App. Furthermore, it is not the responsibility of students to assist in the policing and surveillance of students and community members.

4) Ban and Remove ICE On Campus
We demand that VCU does not allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to come to the university and question students. It is essential that VCU protects undocumented and DACA students.

With this petition, we call on Virginia Commonwealth University to show their commitment to students' safety and take action to defund VCUPD and sever ties with all police departments immediately. As a student body, we must recognize our impact to the greater Richmond area by uplifting community narratives and efforts as well as holding the university accountable for the violence they inflict onto native Richmonders. One way for us to protect the Richmond community is through the defunding and abolition of the VCU police department, an institution in which 85 percent of all uses of force in 2019 was used on Black people. In order to create a true safety model on campus, the VCU administration must prioritize the voices and experiences of students.

We ask that you provide both public and private responses by Friday, August 21st at 5 pm.