PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Cities across the country are taking a closer look at police reform, including at Portland State University and other college campuses.
The recent history of armed officers on campus at PSU was discussed during an online Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday morning.
Officers at PSU were first armed in 2014, but a deadly shooting involving campus police in 2018 ignited controversy.
Jason Washington was shot nine times by campus police. Witnesses say Washington, who was licensed to carry, was trying to break up a fight.
Investigators said he had a friend’s gun holstered to his hip, which either dropped from his hand or fell to the ground. The officer-involved shooting was deemed justified.
Students on Thursday reiterated their calls to disarm officers on campus.
"I'm here again because you again refuse to listen to students and staff and the greater Portland community,” Cammie Gould, a student, said. “Since the issue of armed police on campus was raised in 2014, the students this Board of Trustees is supposed to serve has been locally and vehemently against it. Jason Washington's murder surprised no one and has been met only with empty words and hypocritical double-speak from the university.”
PSU President Stephen Percy wanted students to know that he is listening.
I hear calls for action, and I know my words are not enough, I truly do know that,” Percy said. “I'm asking my campus to listen for a brief time, within two to three weeks, and to respond with a plan, a full plan in this summer, very shortly, of the work we need to do to re-imagine public safety in a way that makes the campus feel safe, in a way that aligns with our collective commitment that Black Lives Matter.”
Students also voiced concerns over a proposed five percent tuition increase, saying many students won’t be able to afford it during a time of recession and high unemployment.
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