October 5, 2020
At Portland State University, students, faculty, staff, and our broader community have been engaged in seven years of organizing, protesting, and collaborating under an umbrella coalition called “Disarm PSU” since the 2014 decision by PSU to transform its Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO) into a sworn and armed police force. While many constituents had been involved in this activism, it is important to note that students have been primary drivers. In July 2018, armed CPSO officers killed Mr. Jason Washington, a tragedy that must be viewed in the larger context of the systemic problem of police brutality targeting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and other marginalized communities. Meanwhile, the presence of armed security on PSU’s campus creates an ongoing traumatic environment for many of our colleagues and students (especially Black colleagues and students).
The Disarm PSU coalition, in partnership with community members and activists across the city, state, and region, recently won an important victory when the university president Stephen Percy announced that campus police will not carry firearms while on patrol. President Percy also committed for a new Re-Imagine Campus Safety Steering Committee. We appreciate the active listening and the commitment to change demonstrated by President Percy, and members of the board of trustees, and acknowledge the labor of all involved over the past seven years.