University of Utah SDS Hold Car Caravan to Demand the Defunding of Campus Police


Right, Alumni Xenia Maritsa, Natalie Griswold, Jessica Arthurs and Tara Arthurs sit on their jeep while listening to speaker at the caravan protest in Salt Lake City on June 6, 2020.

By Natalie Colby and Ivana Martinez


While protests against police brutality are occurring in every state across the nation, the University of Utah Students for a Democratic Society hosted their own car caravan to demand the defunding of campus police. 

“We don’t want any of our tuition money, we don’t want any state money going to police anymore,” said Brynn Dayton, a member of SDS. “We don’t need more police officers. We need more counselors.”

Protestors met at Guardsman Way and then followed the lead car which circled around South Campus Dr., through Mario Cappechi Dr. and Foothill Dr. several times. They specifically honked when they passed the U public safety building — which houses the U campus police. 

Dayton emphasized at the May 30 protest in downtown Salt Lake City, where the U police among SLCPD were present when they began to retaliate against violent protestors with tear gas, physical force and rubber bullets. 

People also protested the negligence and mishandling of the Lauren McCluskey case by UPD. McCluskey was murdered on campus in Oct. 2018, after reporting her stalker to the police several times. Recent investigation by the Salt Lake Tribune also revealed that police officer Miguel Deras downloaded explicit photos of McCluskey from the case.

Dayton said they believe the U should fire a lot of the cops that they have now, as many have been disciplined before at their previous jobs for drunk driving, sexual harassment, etc.  

“How are those people going to keep us safe, if they are out there doing terrible things themselves?” they said. 

Protestors hung out their windows with signs reading, “Are U listening?,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Defund campus police,” and “You should have taken Lauren seriously.” 

When protestors returned to the parking lot, they listened to some speakers from SDS and Ermiya Fanaeian — a member of the executive branch of ASUU. 

“We have fully realized that the University of Utah police has completely abdicated its responsibility to keeping students safe. I’m sorry U of U police but misogyny does not keep anybody safe,” Fanaiean said.

She said they have moved past the need for police reform and are to the point of police abolition. A central argument that has been voiced in recent protest around the nation. 

“It’s not some radical idea — you just don’t like having uncomfortable conversations,” Fanaiean said, “we must continue to collectivize, mobilize and radicalize and we must continue to demand justice.” 

A U of U student who wanted to remain anonymous said he has never found campus police helpful. A member of SDS also read a statement from McCluskey’s mother, Jill McCluskey. 

“Our daughter Lauren was denied equal protection of the laws based on her gender and it resulted in the ultimate price. She lost her life, her pleas for help were not taken seriously,” The statement read. “The sexist culture at the University of Utah campus police and police treatment of Lauren resulted in her preventable death.”

The statement called for increased training, professionalism from campus police and called for the firing of racist and sexist police. 

“If they don’t admit their mistakes and wrongdoing, how can they change for the better?,” the statement read. 

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