By Haley Bartlett
Chattanooga— There has been a recent surge in protests and proclamations against police brutality, hitting areas around the nation and even coming to the backdoors of Chattanoogans as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students hold a protest against the police force on their campus.
The death of a black man in Minneapolis by the hands, or knee rather, of a police officer was felt across the world as protests broke out and quickly turned into calls and petitions to defund police departments across the country. George Floyd was held down under the knee of a police officer Derek Chauvin for almost nine minutes as he said he “can’t breathe,” resulting in his death.
On June 26, UTC students and others stood on Chamberlain Field to share their testimonies of racism and profiling in efforts to gain support in their goal of disarming the UTCPD. The protest was led by the Concerned Citizens for Justice Organization.
Jenna Hyppolite, a student who helped put on the rally, opened up the event by stating: “In Chancellor Angle’s own words ‘we cannot sit on the sidelines and see lives wasted. Silence and inaction are not the choices we can afford to make’” before laying out the changes they want to see happen.
The organization create by UTC students had a list of several goals they want to achieve besides disarming the force: rebudget UTCPD to where half of their funds go towards the working students, faculty and counseling centers, provide mental health resources for students of color who have suffered from hate crimes and other acts of racial discrimination, mandate racial senstivity training, have a student-run system for reports of racism and take affirmative stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Marie Mott, a known activist around Chattanooga, was one of the speakers at the rally and spoke on how UTC’s campus could improve.
“To see that there are white students, that there are LGBQT+ students, that there are LatinX students and people from the greater community coming together,” she said, ”not only for the demands we have for greater Chattanooga, but also the demands from students signifies something that we have not seen in this magnitude for so long. That is resistance.”
The petition created to gain support for these demands has so far reached almost 1,900 signatures out of the 2,500 end goal.