Demonstrators opposed armed campus officers at a #DisarmPSU rally in the Park Blocks at Portland State this Wednesday.
PSU Student Union and Demilitarize PSU led the assembly at 1:30 p.m. The group of approximately 50 protesters moved to the second floor of the Smith Memorial Student Union at around 2 p.m., then a smaller group occupied the lobby of the Market Center Building around 3 p.m.
The purpose of the rally was to “further protest the armament of campus security,” according to the official PSUSU and Demilitarize PSU press release.
Olivia Pace, a PSU Student Union member and organizer, said that PSUSU feels ignored by campus administration. She also said that administration strategically makes it hard for students to engage with them.
“This term, we’ve grown our base and upped our tactics,” Pace said. “We’re just trying to communicate that we’re not going to compromise on this.”
PSU President Wim Wiewel held office hours in the SMSU, room 294, at 2 p.m. He only allowed formally signed-in groups of four or five to enter at once.
The rally in the Park Blocks moved to the second floor of SMSU, where #DisarmPSU speakers such as Alyssa Pagan, member of PSUSU, raised concerns about racial profiling in front of room 294. Pagan told supporters to make themselves visible to President Wiewel.
Demonstrators interrupted the meeting between President Wiewel and fellow supporters. President Wiewel confronted the crowded hall before he left. He said that other challenging issues are a matter of discussion, such as emergency preparedness.
President Wiewel discussed campus security enhancements with the Vanguard in the Oct. 9 press conference.
“More and more of our buildings can be locked electronically and we only have electronic card access,” Wiewel said. “While that will be routinely in place in the evenings and weekends, it also means that in emergency situations, all buildings can be locked. You can still get out, but you won’t be able to get in. So it’s a way, of course, to secure the buildings if there is an active shooter scenario so that they can’t get into any other buildings.”
John Monroe, a PSU Student Union member, helped organize the event.
Monroe said the most pressing matter asserted at the rally was the question of police and race.
“Right now we’ve got the largest, most diverse incoming freshman class in PSU’s history, and suddenly the cops have guns,” Monroe said. “And for those of us in PSUSU don’t see those as disconnected.”
After President Wiewel left, #DisarmPSU confronted Phillip Zerzan, chief of Portland State Campus Public Safety, who was standing in the hall on the second floor of SMSU.
Other demonstrators went to the Market Center Building, where President Wiewel’s office is located, according to a reporter from the Rearguard. They rallied in the lobby before dispersing.
Updated Oct. 23, 2015 at 2:37 p.m.