National Beat Reporter
On May 17, UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Cops Off Campus held an art build, march, and vigil to demand police abolition at UCSB and throughout the community. Cops Off Campus is a coalition that developed throughout the pandemic after the rise of violence against Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. Membership is composed of university students, faculty, community organizations, and other workers with a goal to see police removed from college campuses by the fall of 2021.
The event took place in Isla Vista (I.V) and was part of the larger Cops Off Campus coalition’s month of actions campaign, which will be taking place throughout the month of May. Many local I.V. residents joined the march to help commemorate the lives lost to police officers and to stand against police forces on campus.
Cops Off Campus aims to rebuild the world into a place where community safety, healthcare, and guaranteed jobs can eliminate prisons, police, military bases, and detention centers. The group is associated with other organizations on campus, including Coffee Not Cops, a student-run group that advocates for police abolition, and UCSB COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), which fights against the unfair cost of living adjustments on UC campuses.
Monday’s Cops Off Campus march was held to specifically recognize proposed revisions to the UC Police Department (UCPD) policies that would allow for further militarization and escalation of policing. According to event participant, Emma Rose Mahoney, this action will only allow police to expand the area of noncompliance.
“If you move in any way when someone is trying to constrain you or beat you up, that’s noncompliance. If you take a stance of passivity, like if you sit on the ground or take a knee, that’s seen as noncompliance. If you plead, it’s seen as noncompliance … if you say ‘I can’t’ breathe,’ they have the right to use violence against you,” Mahoney said.
In addition to participating in the march, Mahoney has attended Coffee Not Cops meetings, which take place every Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in front of I.V. Theater, and has been a long-time anti-cop visionary. Mahoney said that putting on a public march made the often unseen negative impact of police more noticeable to the I.V. community.
“I feel like in Santa Barbara especially we live in a little bubble where we think everything is perfect and that the police aren’t murdering anyone, but that’s not true,” Mahoney said. “At the vigil after the march, they said the names of people who have been murdered in Santa Barbara and counties nearby, and the names of police people that were murdering those people. And I had no idea. It had never been mentioned.”
Mahoney said that marching through I.V. gave people who hadn’t originally heard about the event a chance to join in. Publicly displaying the movement in the heart of I.V. allows anyone to get involved in activism which is not a privilege to do so in most schools. Mahoney encourages anyone who feels passionate about police abolition to take advantage of the many activist groups or events on campus.
“The reason that I went to the march is because I’m privileged, I’m white, I’m middle class. The cops are here to protect me, but they’re not here to protect people that don’t look like me, or don’t have the same social status or economic status as me. And I think that people that have that privilege should use it to help people that don’t have the same privilege.”