Defunding the Police - What does it mean and why does PSU-AAUP support it?

June 15, 2020 / PSU-AAUP

Last week, the Executive Council of PSU-AAUP voted to support the local Defund the Police campaign, led by Portland African American Leadership Forum and Unite Oregon to Defund the Police, Reinvest into Black Futures, and Protect our Communities from Violence. Defunding the police takes on many forms. The exact nature of the approach can vary, but it generally does not mean the total elimination of police through literal complete defunding. Instead, it means cutting a relatively substantial portion of a police department's budget and reinvesting those savings in the communities with the most need. Our support for this broad campaign builds on our years of involvement in the efforts to Disarm PSU campus security (which is one of the demands made by the campaign). They are calling upon the Portland City Council to defund the police, reinvest in Black futures, and protect our communities from violence. They are specifically calling for both defunding the Portland Police Bureau and PSU’s Campus Police. 

Defunding the police is a movement that has been increasing in strength due to the current protests in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis Police. The shooting death of Jason Washington in 2018 by PSU armed police further highlights the need to defund police on campus and in our city.  Defunding the police creates a framework for thinking about redefining and redesigning what we do to create safety and well-being for all of us, not just some of us. It is a way to both reimagine policing through significant reform and reorganization and to divert funding into education, job training, affordable, community healthcare, housing, youth outreach, and other community investments that build-up our city, especially targeted in communities of color and other oppressed groups. The defund movement recognizes that for far too long our communities of color have been treated as the designated enemy, which has resulted in disproportionate misconduct, brutality, and death of far too many people of color. PSU-AAUP joins 1000s of organizations and businesses across the country calling for reimagining policing and reinvesting in our communities to advance a social justice framework.

We also believe the campaign is one way to enact our values of racial justice, and we want to be part of a collective and growing social movement right now. Furthermore, we believe unions - and specifically our union - should be involved in discussions about security that does not involve guns and oppression/repression. This campaign reinforces to us that we should be asking hard questions of the University about how it funds CPSO compared to, for example, investing in housing and food security, Black Studies, and keeping student tuition as low as possible.

At this time, the best way PSU-AAUP can support the campaign is for individual members to be involved. We encourage all members of PSU-AAUP to:

1. Review the public statement from the organization (via,

2. Send letters to Council about the demand (via, and

3. Stay tuned for more actions from this ongoing campaign!

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