Image for post
Image for post
Kaitlynn Radloff is an educator, activist, artist, and musician living and working in Milwaukee, WI. (Justseeds)

Abolition Now: We Demand a #PoliceFreePenn

Collectively authored by Police Free Penn: An Abolitionist Assembly, contact us at policefreepenn@gmail.com

We write this as an assembly affiliated and seeking affiliation with all facets of Penn (undergraduate and graduate students, tenured and nontenured faculty, service and office staff, alumni, subcontracted workers, local residents, etc) in deepening the reach and success of the initial petition to End Penn Police State Collusion. Over 12,000 people have signed up to this point and we believe that this endorsement indicates that many of us are ready for what’s next: the struggle to make a police-free Penn real.

Our aim is to abolish policing and transform community safety at the University of Pennsylvania.

For years Penn Police have been asked to do racial bias training in response to their harassment of Black students and community members, but at Penn and campuses across the country, these kinds of neoliberal reforms have not worked.

It’s critical that everyone who reads this understand that we do not see this platform as ONLY an urgent demand to defund and divest from policing, but a call to action for ALL OF US to engage and be accountable to the expansive vision of a different society, requiring we transform our relationships to create just systems where we may all live with dignity. This means, yes, FUCK PENN POLICE until they are dissolved, but our work must continue to evolve to where we commit to our shared responsibility for one another around campus, in our relationships with the occupied Lenape land now referred to as Philadelphia, and beyond. This means work will need to be done to remove the cops from our head and hearts too. What it truly means when we say that Penn Police are no longer necessary is that WE take responsibility for our future.

This mission requires us to coordinate with organizing outside of the Penn bubble, because the illusion of the “bubble” pretends that our struggles are not interconnected and that what happens at Penn doesn’t significantly impact the overall city and larger world. We are grateful to the Philly Black Radical Collective in laying out a vision for what must change in order for the Black community of Philadelphia to thrive. Their 13 demands are specific to Black life, and yes, we are not all Black, yet we know that when we overhaul systems based on Black subjugation domestically and globally, we are well on our way to a just world. This also speaks to reaching toward solidarity with those who organize under the blueprint of #PoliceFreeCampus, #PoliceFreeSchools, The Movement for Black Lives, #8toAbolition, and wider urgent transnational calls for an end to state-sanctioned terrorism against racialized populations.

This is only the beginning. Bold actions and courageous protest threatening the status quo is necessary. We must reject the light concessions being offered, along with proposed reforms that do not significantly alter our conditions. We offer these demands as an abolitionist vision that we believe may unite us in our rage and yearning for a new way.

Our demands fall under the following interconnected categories:

  • Decriminalize Blackness, Protest, and Poverty

We expand on these demands below. We identify these as immediate and non-negotiable goals. To the University of Pennsylvania Administration and Board of Trustees who will assuredly read this, these are good faith starters for ANY peaceful dialogue. These are non-exhaustive and we look forward to continued coalition-building that will expand the call based around these principles. We forego all collective engagement, all calls to peacefully assemble for institutional forums, until the administration has thoroughly and publicly responded to the following:

DECRIMINALIZE:

Non-retaliation against campus and local activism

  • We demand that a written and public declaration be immediately published in receipt of this call that any and all Penn-located persons who engage in protest to transform community safety in defense of Black lives be free of targeting, retaliation, surveillance, and further harm and suspicion perpetuated by the institution. This includes firing, non-hiring, reduction of stipends, etc. Their ability to pursue justice and their work must be protected. This must include undergraduate and graduate students, tenured and nontenured faculty, service and office staff, subcontracted workers, local residents, everyone.

DIVEST:

End all investments in policing and prison industries​

  • We demand that Penn divest completely from corporations like Philadelphia-based Aramark that profit from the prison industrial complex, terminate relationships with all trustees invested in the PIC and militarism abroad, and divest completely from the Philadelphia Police Foundation and Philadelphia Police Department.

DEFUND:

Immediate transparency on UPPD data and finances and a progressive down-payment toward UPPD dissolution

  • We demand the immediate public publishing of Penn’s police and safety budget data for the last 20 years, and commitment to ongoing open publishing of this data until the Penn Police department is dissolved.

DISBAND:

Abolition of the UPPD and the realization of a police-free Penn

  • We demand the immediate termination of Maureen Rush who has a documented record of making students less safe on campus, not so that she can be replaced, but as a first step toward the disbanding of the UPPD.

REDRESS:

Removal of all campus monuments to slavery and white supremacy and purging of all museum inventory unethically held:

  • We demand that representatives of the Penn & Slavery Project, which has been pushed to expand by local activists, in communication with the CAFSA Coalition be empowered to make binding recommendations for the removal of all existing statues, portraits, monuments, building names, and other memorialization that portray actors who were directly involved, affiliated, and/or endorsed violence against Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latinx people.

REINVEST:

Transfer significant financial resources into ​​​​​​community controlled funds, in West Philadelphia and beyond

  • We demand all funds indicated in recent emails, raised in the name of “Penn Projects for Progress” be immediately given, no strings attached, to The Bread & Roses Community Fund to support Black organizing. Bread & Roses is a heralded local organization that has exemplary models established to support grassroots community organizing in Philadelphia that aims to dismantle the very issues that Penn claims to support. We are not interested in NPIC-drenched “innovation” or “solutions” around vague, incrementalist calls to racial equity, nor do we give in to the false notion that our access to Penn makes us exceptionally well suited to usher in the transformation marginalized communities are already struggling to win. They are already doing the work. Fund that work.

REIMAGINE:

Development of police-free strategies for community safety and well-being, especially for Black, Indigenous, POC, and LGBTQIA communities

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​We lift up the demands made by the CAFSA Coalition that prioritize non-carceral models of creating safety while seeking to put an end to sexual violence on Penn’s campus. Prioritizing the experiences of Penn’s gender-oppressed communities, we believe that the recommendations, experiments, and practices that they have set forth can lead the way toward a police-free Penn. Recommendations led by graduate student women of color in 2018, never comprehensively addressed, build upon this vision.

To conclude, this is only a preface. We believe that the struggle to realize these goals is upon us, and we write this to inspire continued organizing and creative actions on behalf of all of us to make these transformations come to pass.

We don’t intend this assembly to be the central hub in which all will be organized. Many voices, on and off-campus collaborations, levels of individual and collective risk-taking, and deep abolitionist study will be crucial in this pursuit. So don’t think you need our permission to do something. Do something. Organize. Act. Petitions, social media posts, and emails ain’t enough.

My collective/organization would like to publicly endorse this vision. You do not have to be Penn-affiliated to endorse this vision.

Endorsements (updated as of 8/4)

The Center for Carceral Communities
MEChA de Penn
Penn for Immigrant Rights
Coalition Against Fraternity Sexual Assault (CAFSA)
Social Justice Scholars of Rutgers Law School- Cohort of ‘22
Abolitionist Law Center
Student Labor Action Project
Penn Association for Gender Equity
Fossil Free Penn
Building Anti-Racist White Educators
Penn for Progress
Penn YDSA
UPenn SPEC-TRUM
National Lawyers Guild Penn Law Chapter
Penn Lambda Alliance
SPEC
Penn Justice Democrats
Penn AAPI Politics
GET-UP (Graduate Employees Together-University of Pennsylvania)
The Excelano Project
Penn Dance Company
iNtuitons Experimental Theatre
Penn Society for Psychedelic Science (PSPS) / Penn Students for Sensible Drug Policy
African American Arts Alliance
Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic Oppression (BARS)
Spice Collective
Quadramics Theatre Company
Penn Philippine Association
Latin American and Latino Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board
Penn Singers Light Opera Company
Penn Civic House Civic Scholars Advisory Board
Creative Resilience Collective
Penn Quiz Bowl
Penn Museum Graduate Advisory Council
United Minorities Council
UPenn Changing Lives with School Supplies
The Philadelphia Organization of Health Professions Students
Books Through Bars
Students Opposing Racism in Medicine (StORM)
UMOJA
Asian American Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board
VOCAL SP2
Black Cultural Studies Collective
Drexel Anti Racist Action Coalition
Teacher Action Group Philly
Penn Glee Club
St. Elmo Club
PennFems
First-Generation, Low-Income Dean’s Advisory Board
Fontaine Society
Collective Climb
SASGov
GAPSA

Written by

Our aim is abolish policing and transform community safety at the University of Pennsylvania.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store