GAINESVILLE, FL – Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida, United Faculty of Florida at the University of Florida, Young Democratic Socialists of America at the University of Florida, the Alachua County Labor Coalition, and Florida Prisoner Solidarity formally condemn the use of campus police to repress student protests. Student activism is a long-standing tradition in the fight for justice, peace, and equity in our institutions and across the globe. We strongly believe in the right to protest on our campuses as a form of rebellion against systems of oppression in pursuit of a better world.
There has been a recent increase in campus police violence in tandem with increased student organizing in response to demonstrable attacks on academic freedom, the rights of LGBTQ students, and reproductive rights by the state. On March 10th, two students, including a member of GAU leadership, were violently arrested by UF police officers during a peaceful rally for bodily autonomy on our campus. This comes only a few days after four students were arrested by University of South Florida police officers at a peaceful demonstration on campus in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Both instances resulted in heavy criminal and student conduct charges, still being actively fought.We believe this is an attempt to chill student organizing efforts that go against the harmful agenda of the state. UF PD has a history of attacking peaceful protestors, as exemplified by the tear gassing of the Black Student Union during Black Thursday, 1971. We fully support students’ rights to collectivize and voice their opinions on campus, where freedom of speech is supposed to be held sacred. There is power when we stand together and we will fight to continue the legacy of student activism.