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University of Florida students march against campus police militarization

By Jonathan Waring |
December 5, 2014
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Tristan Worthington leading the march to the administration hall
Tristan Worthington leading the march to the administration hall (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Gainesville, FL - Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at the University of Florida marched through campus on Dec. 3. Students are demanding that the University Police Department opt out of the Department of Defense 1033 Program that provides assault rifles and armored vehicles to local police. The 1033 Program came under close scrutiny after protests against the police murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photos of protesters and residents being confronted by local police armed with assault weapons and tank-type vehicles shocked the world.

SDS was joined by other campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the UF Libertarians, as well as Veterans for Peace from the local community. Those marching joined in chants of “Tuition money is for education, not police militarization,” and “From Kofi to Brown, shut it all down,” referencing a Ghanaian graduate student shot in the face in his own apartment by campus police in 2010.

Sky Button of SDS spoke about the growing campaign, “The student response that we received was overwhelmingly positive. After learning about the 1033 Program, the vast majority of students came out against this program.”

Three students from SDS and SJP were granted a meeting with the head of University of Florida Police Department (UFPD), Lieutenant Linda Stump. Stump agreed to opt out of the 1033 Program if the UFPD were allowed to keep its armored rescue vehicle. As an alternative, Stump agreed to sign a pledge to consult with students if the UFPD were to consider receiving other materiel.

Tristan Worthington, one of the SDS members in the delegation that met with Lieutenant Stump commented on the meeting, “I’m pleased that Lieutenant Stump says she is willing and eager to work hand-in-hand with us to reform the system and revise the current relationship UFPD has with the 1033 Program.”