BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Amid concerns from students and community members, the General Assembly passed a bill to authorize Johns Hopkins University to create its own police force. Students organized a sit-in to protest the "deepening militarization of the university" and after a week of occupying a campus building, hundreds rallied Wednesday to show solidarity.
"The work that you're doing, the protests, the sit-ins, the relentless fight to not allow this law to take affect is exactly what we need," said Sen. Jill Carter, who voted against the bill.
The crowd, filled with Hopkins students, professors, community members and students form surrounding colleges also marched onto campus, chanting slogans like, 'No Justice. No Peace. No private police.'
"I’m scared for myself and my safety and for the safety of my black and brown friends and my trans friends and my poor friends," said sophomore Bentley Addison. "Over 75% of students said this wouldn’t make them feel safer in a poll conducted by the Student Government Association of the undergraduate body of Hopkins."
They not only want University officials to decide not to create a police force, but they also want them to drop contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
"I think a new police force will just come in and harass the surrounding residents. Baltimore already has an issue with police brutality and I think a private police force will not help that," said Roland Park resident Travis Marshall.
"The university strongly supports free expression, including protests and demonstrations, as reflected in our guidelines and statements on academic freedom and free expression. The university has and continues to make every effort to accommodate the ongoing protest in Garland Hall, and is periodically updating and adjusting operational protocols in order to ensure a safe environment and the continuation of university operations," said university officials in a statement.
Students plan to keep the sit-in in Garland Hall going until officials negotiate with them.