On Tuesday the UR Abolition Coalition (URAC) taped hundreds of flyers to the doors of Rush Rhees Library on Eastman Quad. Among other demands, the flyers called for the abolition of the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The postering comes as the city of Rochester and the nation are embroiled in protests calling for a reimagining of public safety following several high-profile police killings.
URAC members assembled behind George Eastman’s statue at 12:34 p.m. before approaching the steps of Rush Rhees as a group around 12:40 p.m. The group soon got to work taping up numerous flyers to the doors of Rush Rhees and several other campus locations including Wilson Commons.
Many students looked on from Eastman Quad as others slowly walked by trying to figure out what was going on. Demonstrators encouraged passing students to “Scan the QR code!” on the posters. The QR code led to a link containing more information about the movement’s goals.
Seniors Hana Mamnoon and Olivia Brumfield were both sitting near the steps of Rush Rhees as the postering began.
“It is a really impactful way that they have chosen to do this,” Mamnoon said. “Everyone who is walking by is scanning the QR code.”
Brumfield agreed that “their message is definitely getting across.”
Outside of the main entrance to Wilson Commons, demonstrators hung fliers spelling out “UR COMPLICIT.” First-years Eric Shulman and Peter Braick found themselves in a dialogue with junior Indy Maring, a demonstrator, in front of the posters as they initially had some opposing views.
“We looked at it and kinda […] engaged in a dialogue with [Maring] about what was going on and it was interesting,” Braick told the Campus Times.
“I just wanted to start a conversation,” Shulman commented. “We kinda live in revolutionary times, so I wanted to see different perspectives.”
“Part of why [URAC] did this flyering is to get this word out on campus about what we are doing, what we are interested in, and to have dialogues like the one I just had with these two guys,” Maring told CT. “We know that everyone doesn’t know what abolition is, we know everyone isn’t on the same page. Like he said, it’s a revolutionary time, and we all want to be in this together so it takes conversations to learn more about each other and each other’s opinions and perspectives.”
Organizers hoped that the postering would not only bring more of the student body into the conversation, but also grab the attention of UR administration.
“They should be reading our demands, that’s the first step; their next step is to actually act on those demands,” first-year Veanessya Vazquez-Lopez told the CT.
Demonstrators thought the postering went well. “I think we have seen a lot of interest from people on campus, which is great to see. I think that the […] biggest push right now is to get people informed, educate people about what we have been doing, researching, and sharing what the demands are,” senior Remiah Sundine said. “The next step would be for them to start actually looking into ways they can start to actually make substantial change.”
“We want action. So no committees, no sitting down with student groups, they did that all throughout the summer, sat down with so many student leaders […] just to pacify us,” junior Demilade Oladele said.
Her message to the administration is simple: “You cannot pacify this; this is not going to be a talk to us and get us over it. We are really determined to get action out of the University and the administration. They should be prepared to act.”
URAC is an entirely student-led group focused on pressuring the University to adopt reforms. According to their demands from Sept. 21, UR has “an obligation to students to not only promote a safe and equitable learning environment, but to also provide the transparency and accountability necessary for students to live without fear.”
The organization formed over the summer coinciding with the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death. You can find more information about URAC here.