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UCSD Students And Faculty Call For Abolishing Campus Police

Essence Leann, a UCSD student, together with fellow students and faculty call...

Photo by Cristina Kim

Above: Essence Leann, a UCSD student, together with fellow students and faculty calls to end police presence on college campuses, June 9, 2021.

A group of UC San Diego students and faculty members gathered with local social justice organizations on Wednesday to call for an end to police presence on college campuses.

“Don’t fall prey to the idea that the UCPD is some easier police institution that looks better and nicer than that of San Diego’s Police Department,” said Ahmad Mahmuod, an organizer with Pillars of the Community, during the late-morning event held at Civic Center Plaza.

Listen to this story by Cristina Kim.

Essence Leann is a third year college student at UCSD and organizer affiliated with an international collection of groups called the Cops Off Campus Coalition. She said she was racially profiled by campus police in the early morning on May 25, 2021.

RELATED: Police Reform In San Diego A Year After George Floyd's Death

Leann said she still remembers exactly what went through her head when the police surrounded her car.

“I had an interpersonal dialogue with myself: ‘Don’t die Essence.’ It was really that simple,” she said. “You have to police yourself.“

She added that the incident, which resulted in a warning citation for having an obstructed license, was just another reminder of how she feels her movement and freedom are hemmed in by the color of her skin.

According to the public UCSD Police Department logs, the incident was logged as “suspicious circumstances.”

In an emailed statement, a campus spokesperson said: The UC system has been working with stakeholders including students to create The Presidential Campus Safety Plan, which will “transform UC’s culture, policies and practices to achieve a vision of safety in which all members of the community feel further welcomed, respected and protected.”

That plan is scheduled to be released at some point this summer, according to the statement.

The local Cops Off Campus organizers say their movement is rooted in the idea of abolition and taking steps toward a more just society.

“Abolishing the police is an entry point for reimagining or rediscovering ways we can exist in community, with one another as we build the world we want to see,” said Simeon Man, a UCSD associate professor and Cops Off Campus UCSD member.

The UCSD Police Department has an overall budget of $13.9 million, which includes 93 full-time employees, 45 of which are sworn police officers.

Students and faculty from Cops Off Campus UCSD want to see that budget redistributed to other student needs, such as access to housing and laptops, and to expunge Leann’s warning citation.

Reported by Cristina Kim , Video by Mike Damron

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Photo of Cristina Kim

Cristina Kim
Racial Justice and Social Equity Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover racial justice and social equity issues – an expansive beat that includes housing, health, criminal justice, and education. I am interested in unpacking how systems reproduce inequalities and highlighting the ways communities of color are pushing for greater equity.

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