PSU students stage ‘die-in’ to demand disarming of police

Hundreds of students at Portland State University shut down traffic Tuesday while staging a die-in to protest the school’s armed public safety officers.

“So, I do believe I have mentioned the die-in before—what that entails is a lot of us who are abused so to say…we’re going to be laying down in the street outside so [the president] can see us so he knows what the Board of Trustees does to us, which is it kills us,” one protester explained.

A video published by Vidmax shows nearly 200 students proceeding to lay down in the middle of traffic causing a backup in both directions.

“Whose streets? Our streets!” protesters shouted.

“Disarm PSU! Disarm PSU!” they continued.

The shutdown, though, was only the latest incident in Disarm PSU’s long history of protests dating back to 2014, when the group was formed in response to a Board of Trustees vote that brought armed campus police to campus.

Since then, the group has organized several protests, but the school has previously told Campus Reform that it will not give in to Disarm PSU’s demands by reversing the policy.

[RELATED: Portland State Univ. students protest armed campus police]

“The decision was a culmination of two and a half years of engaging the campus and creating a task force made up of faculty, staff, and students to decide how best to improve safety,” PSU spokesman Scott Gallagher explained. “That task force recommended that the Board of Trustees approve the creation of a police force that would be armed.”

Additional information on the school's position is available through a FAQ page on its website.

[RELATED: PSU protesters shut down trustees meeting, demand members pay for tuition]

Although the main focus of Tuesday’s protest was the school’s armed police force, protesters also lambasted everything from minimum wage laws to capitalism as a whole.

[RELATED: PSU protesters disrupt Student for Trump meeting]

“The police are a tool of capitalism to control people in the state they are—staying in slavery, staying in poverty wages, staying in ridiculous working conditions,” one protester exclaimed at a rally after the die-in.

“We are fighting against racism, we are fighting against capitalism, and we are fighting against patriarchy,” another protester neatly summarized.

One student, in the course of haranguing PSU Public Safety, criticized officers for their alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases, and even accused them of being rapists.

“Police are notorious for mishandling sexual assault cases. We all know that. They are often also rapists themselves,” she said to cheers from her fellow students.

One of Portland’s mayoral candidates, Sarah Iannarone, took time out of her busy schedule to join Disarm PSU in its protest, declaring that once elected mayor, she would work to sever all ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), federal immigration, and even the “joint task force on terrorism.”

“We need to decouple from ICE, we need to not partner with federal immigration, we need to not partner with the joint task force on terrorism,” she told the students. “If I am your next mayor I will actively decouple from these racist activities as well.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski