Cops Off Campus Campaign advocates for dissolution of UTPD, Liberation Coalition-formed group

Tori Duff

 

The Liberation Coalition, a student communist group, created a movement called the Cops Off Campus campaign that starts Tuesday to protest the presence of police on and around  University campus.

 

The group seeks to abolish The University of Texas Police Department, halt plans to build a UTPD satellite office and remove all police presence from campus, according to their mission statement. The campaign is also asking the University to stop cooperating with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that imprisons and deports students and to divest from the U.S. military and kick their research and operations off campus, according to the coalition’s group demands.

 

Campaign member Jane Doe, who asked to stay anonymous for safety reasons, said the coalition operates on principles of revolutionary communism, intersectionality and democratic centralism to protest capitalist order. The Cops Off Campus campaign is run separately from the Liberation Coalition, but it was started by leaders of the coalition, Jane Doe said, a campaign member who asked to stay anonymous for safety reasons.

 

“The creation of the campaign was very influenced by the (Black Lives Matter) uprisings,” Jane said. “The pandemic really hurt our organizing efforts since campus was basically shut down, but we wanted to do something before the BLM protests inevitably lost coverage.”

 

The first meeting of this group will be Tuesday evening and will occur at Eastwoods Neighborhood Park. It is open to anyone who wants to remove police from campuses, Jane said.

 

While the Liberation Coalition works anonymously for safety reasons, the privacy status for members of the Cops Off Campus campaign has not been decided,  John Doe said, a campaign member who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons. This will be discussed at the first meeting Tuesday.

 

“We know that the real fundamental purpose of the capitalist state’s armed bodies is to violently enforce private property and suppress the most oppressed sections of the working class,” Jane said.

 

In November 2020, the coalition marched to the site of the new UTPD satellite center at Walter Webb Hall in protest of its establishment. The group expressed frustration with the University administration for their decision to increase UTPD’s budget by $8 million and expand their presence in West Campus.

 

“We do not want our thousands of dollars of tuition, and/or potential money for education, funding our suppression,” Jane said. They said this led to the establishment of the campaign.

 

UTPD did not respond for comment, but University spokesperson J.B. Bird said students have the right to protest the presence of police.

 

“We always respect the rights of students to exercise freedom of expression and advocate for things they believe in,” Bird said. “At UT-Austin, security on and around campus remains a constant priority.”

 

The campaign has not yet organized any events or protests for the semester, but they will start discussions on actions once meetings begin, John Doe said, a campaign member who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

 

“Our goal should be to build a mass movement on campus that the administration must pay attention to,” John said.