UCSD Students Protest for Cops Off Campus

Eli Lawler / The Triton

Regrettably, I was late to the Cops Off Campus protest, but it wasn’t hard to find it through the booming, charismatic chanting on La Jolla Farms Road. When I arrived, I saw a group of about 30 people standing in the road, one holding a megaphone, as they let loose a continuous stream of chants.

The majority of protesters stood in the middle of the street. Next to them were people who had some food, water and hand sanitizer for everyone. A police car parked close by and stayed from 12:15 p.m. to 12:32 p.m., and left with no incident.

The chants stayed consistent throughout the first hour of the protest:

“Say his name!”

“Oscar Grant!”

“Say his name!”

“Oscar Grant!”

“Say his name!”

“Oscar Grant!”

“Say her name!”

“Ma’ khia Bryant!”

“Say her name!”

“Ma’ khia Bryant!”

“Say her name!”

“Ma’ khia Bryant!”

“A-C-A-B.”

“All cops are bastards!”

“A-C-A-B.”

“All cops are bastards!”

One of the organizers, Essence LeAnn, described the meaning behind this protest:

“So the UCSD Cops off Campus, the whole national movement, we’re standing in solidarity today because we believe that Cops Off Campus is true safety and safety alternatives are replacing the type of funds that are going into the militarization, And going into the killings of Black and Brown students. We need that to be transferred back into rehabilitation centers and mental health centers. And that’s why we’re here to get cops off campus.”

Maya Philipp / The Triton

Protestors blocked the road from 12:00 to 1:30. Some cars approached the group and turned away with no incident, but a few drove into the crowd attempting to continue down the street. None of these drivers succeeded. Some of the drivers made their complaints known as they left, but most left in silence.

At about 1:00 pm, protestors started to pass around a megaphone, sharing stories, spoken poems, and calls to solidarity. People shared poems about grieving the violence and generational trauma that was born from it. One protestor spoke on the need for solidarity between the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Black community, as violence against both of these minority groups have been rising. An ongiong international investigation by human rights experts calls the police killings of Black Americans a crime against humanity.

The need for this protest is expressed very plainly by Huda Ahmed, one of the protestors:

“The presence [of the group] is very healing. The sense of community here despite in the middle of like midterms in the middle of the week, yknow, we have to bring to light some of that tension of how damaging it can be with it on campuses and kind of just educating students and faculty on how they can move forward to be safe on campus.”

Maya Philipp / The Triton

An hour into the protest, the organizers led a silent vigil to honor those whose lives have been taken by police-sanctioned violence and the families who were left behind. Protesters handed out a few candles but the wind made it impossible to keep them lit, so they sat in a circle, most using their phone flashlights. Two more cars were unsuccessful in their attempts to pass through the street, and the rest of the vigil went on in complete quiet.

The moment of silence concluded, protesters began the march through North Torrey Pines Street. One of the protesters drove behind the march to protect those on foot from getting hit. As the march began to gain momentum, I took some time to talk to one of the organizers, Essence LeAnn, about police reform. 

“I think they’re just like, legalized killers like the whole type of ideology behind it. If you have complete obedience over a person that doesn’t seem healthy, that’s not a healthy modality of safety for anyone, especially students. And I think not following the founding fathers of American racism, their definition of safety is why we’re here today. So that’s all I have to say.”

At 1:30, the protesters took to marching from La Jolla Farms Road to North Torrey Pines Street. Drivers that passed by the group reacted were less antagonistic than previous encounters. The majority of the drivers that passed either held an upright fist with the thumb out or honked in sync with the chants that persisted as the group turned onto North Torrey Pines, blocking all of the lanes closest to the University.

A procession of stalled cars formed behind the protesters and their single protective car. The protestors kept up with chants with cars honking behind them, somewhat in a rhythm.

“Black trans lives matter!”

Black trans lives matter!”

“Black trans lives matter!”

Black trans lives matter!”

“Black queer lives matter!”

Black queer lives matter!”

“Black queer lives matter!”

Black queer lives matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

“Black youth matter!”

When the protesters turned onto Muir College Drive, the cars that were previously behind them didn’t immediately take off. Most of the drivers and passengers that were previously honking in sync rolled down their windows to wave to the protesters and show support.

The tone of the march shifted as the protestors made their way onto the relatively-empty campus. Though people occasionally opened their dorm windows to look at the procession, the march proceeded almost uneventfully. Nonetheless, the chanting remained powerful.

“Hey Hey! Ho Ho! These racist cops have got to go!”

“Hey Hey! Ho Ho! These racist cops have got to go!”

“Hey Hey! Ho Ho! These racist cops have got to go!”

“Hey Hey! Ho Ho! These racist cops have got to go!”

“No justice! No peace! Take to the streets and fuck the police!”

“No justice! No peace! Take to the streets and fuck the police!”

“No justice! No peace! Take to the streets and fuck the police!”

Maya Philipp / The Triton

The march continued through Muir College Drive, Muir Lane, and down the Peterson Hall bicycle path until the procession came to a stop at Price Center Plaza, where the rally continued until 3:00 p.m. Before the protest dispersed, I spoke to Kendall Green who shared some of his thoughts on UCSD’s record of not addressing its own racism.

“As you all seen after last year, which brought some widespread attention, black lives really haven’t mattered. And even though that’s a focus on policing, educational systems aren’t exempt from making Black Lives Matters either. UCSD is a prime example of that. Over 30,000 students, yet they have 1,000 black people, or African people on campus. Khosla has to be held accountable for that. So today obviously he was not here, much could be desired when it comes to that. He doesn’t want to take accountability for not having black people, they can put out all the diversity statements that they want after another black body was killed by the police. But if you’re not putting black lives matter in the actual policy, to actually black and African students… they’re platitudes, at the end of the day. They can keep the statement. They keep the 21 day anti-racism challenge like it’s a game on 2k or something like that.”

The event ended with a long cheer from the protestors, before they mingled for a few minutes and ultimately parted ways a little after 3p.m.. This protest was the first in a series of events held by Cops Off Campus for Abolition May. The university has not yet responded to the demands of protestors. Kendall shared his response to the inaction of the administration:

“So everybody at this point, those in the culture are tired of what the administration really is. Their colors have shown throughout the years, it’s not just this year that you know, black lives haven’t mattered to them. But throughout UCSD’s entirety, or just a lack of black and African people. A lack of black and African professors. The BSU put out 10 demands last year, and they have not yet fulfilled one of those demands. They can keep the platitudes and they can keep the statements, we want action. Without that, events like this have to keep happening. More than just idling, pushing people to actually, you know, put policy behind the action, that’s definitely what needs to happen. Not just this year, but throughout time.”

Nada Alami is the Assistant Managing Editor for The Triton. You can follow them here.

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