Portland State University Faculty and Students Demand Campus Police Disarm

Police officer holding gun
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Students and faculty at Portland State University are calling on the school to ban its campus police officers from carrying firearms, claiming that having armed police on campus would be “a ticking time bomb.” PSU students are joining a national movement aiming to prohibit officers from carrying guns on campus.

Portland State University (PSU) students and other members of the community are calling on the school to disarm its campus police, according to a report by Portland Mercury. Several students who attended a board meeting on Thursday held signs reading “#DisarmPSU” next to photos of Jason Washington, a man who was fatally shot by PSU police last year.

The report added that Washington — a 45-year-old black Navy veteran with a license to carry a firearm — was fatally shot last year after reaching for a gun that had fallen from his holster to the ground while he was trying to break up a fight at an off-campus bar.

A Multnomah County grand jury concluded that the officers had not been guilty of any wrongdoing, but PSU reportedly hired outside security firm Margolis Healy to evaluate the school’s public safety policies and make recommendations to PSU administrators.

To students’ dismay, Margolis Healy did not end up recommending that PSU disarm its campus police when the security form published its 209-page report four months later.

In February, Oregon State Representative Diego Hernandez introduced legislation that would disarm all campus police officers at the largest universities in Oregon, which included PSU. The bill did not move out of committee.

Now, a student union at PSU is urging officials to disarm campus police, joining in on a nationwide movement to ban campus police from carrying firearms. At Yale University, students are also demanding that their school disarm its campus police, claiming that the move would quell “state-sanctioned violence.”

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design Board of Trustees voted 8-2 against a request from its campus police officers to be armed, suggesting that the officers should remain unarmed to ensure a safe and inclusive environment.

“Police with guns are a ticking time bomb,” said PSU student Olivia Pace at the Thursday Board of Trustees meeting, according to KGW8.

The report added that the board decided to hold off on making a decision with regards to disarming campus police until the fall 2019 semester. PSU interim president Stephen Percy said that he will review the issue over the summer.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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