Student org. calls for the disarming of campus police
On Dec. 15, Revolutionary Horizon (REVHO), an anarchist organization consisting primarily of UTSA students, drafted a letter to UTSA President Taylor Eighmy calling for the disarming of UTSA police officers and for the rollback of the increased police presence on campus.
The increase in security came after white nationalist group Patriot Front hung a banner off the University Center bridge, concerning the UTSA community of their safety on campus.
“We are specifically calling for the disarming and disbanding of the police in response to these proposals, because we reject the notion that the police make us safer,” a member of REVHO said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We believe that these actions and proposed solutions do the very opposite and that the institution of policing is itself an institution that upholds and perpetuates white supremacy, both on college campuses and off.”
The organization listed seven ‘demands’ of the university within the letter: removing a rule that prohibits flyers and other materials from being printed in a language other than English, or without an English translation; to not invite or allow any law enforcement or military agencies on campus; the discontinuation of proposals aimed at increasing campus police foot patrols, surveillance equipment, the inclusion of police officers in campus forums, the student-led patrol group Rowdy Watch; the scaling back and eventual disbandment of UTSAPD; a letter from President Eighmy addressed to the student body “detailing and acknowledging the threat that armed law enforcement agencies pose to the safety of the student body” and propose student-led initiatives regarding safety and security on campus; and for the president to issue a similar statement to all other UT System presidents.
Eighmy responded to REVHO’s statement via a private email, thanking them for their letter and asking them to partake in a campus climate survey stated to be available sometime this month.
Disarm, defund and disband
“I hope the members of your organization will consider participating in these discussions as we explore our common and disparate viewpoints as a community,” he said.
REVHO was not satisfied with the president’s response.
“We think this response by the president hints towards somewhat of an inability or unwillingness to fundamentally address the issue of white supremacy on campus,” the member said. “If he has any genuine, vested interest in combating white supremacist rhetoric, organizations and institutions, dismantling the power of the police on campus needs to be a part of the conversation and a central focus to these efforts.”
Joe Izbrand, associate vice president of communications and marketing, speaking on behalf of UTSAPD, said that while no additional police officers are being hired, current personnel are going to be more present on campus.
“We are using existing resources and deploying personnel more effectively and efficiently to discourage incidents in the future,” he said.
Izbrand said because UTSAPD are certified peace officers in the state of Texas, they are legally qualified to carry firearms.
“Don’t ever hesitate to call the police department if you have concerns or need help,” Izbrand said. “Officers are here for your safety and protection.”
The REVHO member says the demands made in the letter were an attempt to “make it known that [they] will reject and disrupt the enacting of [the] proposals” via “planned actions in the coming weeks.”
“We believe in employing a diversity of tactics, and we plan to address whatever moves the administration makes from multiple angles, and we stand fully in solidarity with those who do the same through whatever means they deem most appropriate.”
The UT System Board of Regents voted for the creation of a UT System police force in 1967, with the first class of officers instituted in 1968.