Ivy League librarians demand a ‘world without policing’

A group of librarians at Ivy League institutions is advocating for a "world without policing."

The group demanded that schools "explicitly name policing as the problem" while calling for the "complete abolition" of law enforcement.

A group of 13 “abolitionist librarians” from Ivy League universities who call themselves “AbLA Ivy+” is demanding that their colleagues “immediately begin the work of divesting from police and prisons.” 

The Association of Research Libraries released a statement in support of “protests against police brutality” in June. It called on “leaders of libraries and archives to examine our institutions’ role in sustaining systems of inequity.”

The statement demands that “material resources are procured and highlighted to chronicle the history of white supremacy, oppression of marginalized peoples, and the laws and policies that create systemic inequities” as well as attention to hiring those “who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”

In a more recent statement, AbLA Ivy+ claims that while these actions should be “applauded,” they “have not gone far enough.” The group wants Ivy League librarians to “explicitly name policing itself as the problem” and take actions that will lead to the “complete abolition of law enforcement.”

“The solution to police violence is not reform but an abolition of policing in all its forms. Therefore, we call on the leadership of our institutions and all of our colleagues to embrace an abolitionist vision of a hopeful, life-affirming future and to immediately begin the work of divesting from police and prisons with the ultimate goal of the complete abolition of law enforcement and surveillance from library spaces, campuses, communities — in short, everywhere,” the statement reads. 

[RELATED: SURVEY: Young Americans trust colleges more than police, military, and churches]

The first demand calls for Ivy League libraries to “sever all relationships — formal and informal — with local police departments as demanded by student and community activist groups.”

AbLA Ivy+ also wants libraries to “remove any reliance on law enforcement as a means of addressing conflicts that arise in all library spaces by 2022.” 

The group calls for a complete divestment from law enforcement, policing and “companies that use prison labor,” the prohibition of cameras in libraries, and “the development of data policies and practices that draw on feminist and decolonial praxis.” 

Citing a claim that 73 percent of traffic stops by the University of Chicago Police Department were Black individuals, AbLA Ivy+ claimed that law enforcement officers “do not keep campuses safe.” Because of this, the group wants to “join, build, & sustain a world without policing.”

[RELATED: Chicago students call to cut ties with police despite city’s 139 percent murder spike]

“We demand that our university and college libraries formally endorse these demands and stand in support with these groups towards a police-free future,” the statement says. In the statement’s conclusion, the Ivy League librarians take responsibility for the “privilege and power” they hold. 

“We recognize that librarianship, an overwhelmingly white profession, has systematically marginalized BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and librarians with disabilities,” the statement says.

“Reckoning with our own histories of and complicity in white supremacy and anti-Black racism is in the best interest not only of our institutions and patrons but our profession at large,” the statement continues.

More than 700 individuals and organizations have signed the petition to stand in solidarity with the movement. 

“The letter struck me as the latest instance of self-flagellating nonsense from within academia. Claiming libraries as institutions of white supremacy and racism is a pitiful and dishonest grasp for attention and I am disappointed that the University of Chicago would engage with such drivel,” Campus Reform correspondent and University of Chicago student Jack Capizzi told Campus Reform.

“If these librarians crave genuine examples of ideological suppression, racial division, and white supremacy, I suggest that they refer to their history sections on twentieth-century Europe,” Capizzi concluded. 

AbLA  Ivy+ members did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment. 

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