'Defund and eliminate campus police': BU's how-to guide for creating 'radical forms of community'

Boston University’s African American Studies Department website promotes strategies to remove police from college campuses.

The document was created by a prison abolition organization that works with colleges and K-12 education.

Boston University’s African American Studies Department website encourages and provides strategies on how to eliminate police on college campuses. 

The document, “How to Grow Abolition on Your Campus: 8 Actions,” was published on the African American Studies Department social media platforms shortly after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Critical Resistance Abolitionist Educators, a group that supports the abolition of prisons and works with universities and K-12 education, created the guide. 

Strategies to “defund and eliminate campus police” include “ Build radical forms of community and interdependence,” “Audit and change blatantly discriminatory policies for college access,” and “Amplify the work of social and political movements and front-line organizations.”

Another strategy encourages students to collaborate with other organizations to help abolish police and to “build radical forms of community and interdependence.”

“Create, support, and amplify dialogues around what really makes us safer and build infrastructures for maintaining well being without police. Leverage university resources to pay local abolition feminist anti-violence organizers to share resources, tools, and workshops.”

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The document also promotes the larger prison abolitionist movement in the US. 

“All educational spaces, including colleges and universities, are necessary sites in the work to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC).”

“Abolition movements take concrete steps to end reliance on policing, imprisonment, surveillance, and other forms of state violence while building practices and systems that sustain well-being and coalesce political power.”

“Abolition is an immediate strategy and a long-term goal.”

It explains further that law enforcement is grown out of racism, including border patrol.

“Designed to ‘protect and serve’ a tiny minority, institutions of policing (whether border patrol or municipal departments) emerged from histories of colonization, racism, and the repression of social movements and rote reforms will not change the fundamental purpose of police.”

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Additionally, Critical Resistance Abolitionist Educators suggests creating an alternative plan and make an agreement to not utilize law enforcement if there is an emergency. Instead, the group advocates training others on how to respond to an emergency. For example, one training goes over how to treat someone who has overdosed on opioids.

The document also encourages demanding colleges to no longer take “criminal and disciplinary records” into consideration for “admissions, employment, scholarships and other funding, campus housing and more.”

Other tips include demanding colleges to eliminate any connection with the PIC, campaign for free education, and continue educating yourself and others on the abolition movement.

The organization Critical Resistance describes itself as “a national grassroots organization building a movement to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC).”

“We think of the PIC as the system of surveillance, policing, and imprisonment that government, industry and their interests use as solutions to economic, social, and political problems.”

One student at Boston University, however, told Campus Reform that campus police are essential.

“Campus police at Boston University and other universities across the nation bear an essential presence. They exist so as to ensure the safety of students on their respective campuses, and any implication that their purpose is to protect and serve a ‘tiny minority’ and that their institution is born out of racism is fundamentally incorrect,” Arsheya Maghsoud said.

Campus Reform has reached out to BU and the African American Studies Department for comment but haven’t received a response.