Graduate Workers Condemn Saturday Police Escalation

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Above photo: A sign from Friday’s action, a collaboration between NUGW and NU Community Not Cops. Emily Sakai.

NOTE: CBS News reports on the police violence:

A few hundred students, nearly all from Northwestern, turned out for the event organized by a group called NU Community Not Cops. It started peacefully, but as the march went on, things changed.

Students shared a video with CBS 2 showing firecrackers used as a smaller group of students came face to face with Evanston police with backup from other local police departments.

Protesters have been marching in support of abolishing campus police that effort every day since Oct. 12, but students say a small group of demonstrators Saturday night turned more aggressive as they broke windows downtown, spray-painting buildings and launching those fireworks.

In a Sunday statement, Northwestern University Graduate Workers condemned the police escalation — including the pepper-spraying and shoving student protestors — at Saturday’s NU Community Not Cops protest.

At least two participating NUGW members were pepper-sprayed, the group wrote, during the 20th straight day of demonstrations demanding that NU divest from law enforcement.

“Last night proved once again that it is heavily armed, militarized police who create and escalate violence,” NUGW wrote. “As NUCNC has long argued, and as we unfortunately saw on display last evening, the police do not, and never will, keep us safe.”

NUGW wrote that Saturday night’s escalation was also a direct result of University President Morton Schapiro’s controversial Oct. 19 email to the community condemning student protestors. In it, he warned any members of the NU community found to violate rules and laws would be held accountable for their actions. NUGW called his rhetoric a “threat of aggression” that gave police the “green light” to harm student protestors with impunity.

The group called on Schapiro to resign and urged the University to meet NUCNC’s demands to abolish University Police and sever ties with the Evanston and Chicago Police Departments. Instead, NUGW said the University should “meaningfully invest” in Black student communities in order to repair the harm done to them.

NUGW added that its support for NUCNC’s abolitionist demands are not just a solidarity issue. The abolition of police, they wrote, would mean a “reduction in harm” faced by Black graduate workers at their workplaces — campus itself.

“President Schapiro, who sits in one of the highest positions of power at this institution, helped to unleash this terror on his own students,” NUGW wrote. “He must resign immediately.”