The murder of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police is yet another instance of anti-Black racism manifesting in law enforcement, a system built to oppress Black lives.

Tyre should be alive today, photographing sunsets from the thousands of acres of greenspace and trails at Shelby Farms Park, one of Memphis’ treasured landscapes. Tyre should be alive, skateboarding and sharing quality time with his loved ones. But he is no longer here, because at least seven Memphis Police officers executed him in a traffic stop.

What happened to Tyre Nichols can happen anywhere, anytime in America where armed police exist, including our CSU campuses. As an anti-racist, social justice union, we cannot sit on the sidelines and watch our Black and brown faculty, students, and staff navigate this very real threat alone. We must act as a collective to protect our communities from this state-sanctioned brutality. 

At CFA, we want alternatives to campus police in non-criminal matters as one step to begin to address systemic changes needed on our campuses. This work began back in 2017 after the murder of David Josiah Lawson, a black student at Humboldt State.  Students for Quality Education (SQE) launched ‘No Harm, Disarm!’, to disarm campus police and security officers across the 23 CSU campuses and invest in mental health counselors (a CFA effort for more than a decade), mental health crisis intervention teams, Black resource centers, and mandatory de-escalation and unconscious bias training for all campus police and security.

CFA supports our students’ tireless efforts for justice and for investing in important resources. After the police murder of George Floyd, CFA released its anti-Black racism demands, centering on redress for systemic anti-Black racism in the CSU. Our demands included defunding and removing armed and militarized policing from campuses, establishing Black/Africana Studies departments and student centers, hiring and supporting Black faculty, resourcing mental health and counseling teams on all campuses, and addressing cultural taxation. Those demands can be read here.

Our demands evolved into Our Way Forward, Volume II and into our health and safety proposal for alternatives to police on campus and the establishment of a taskforce. When the Chancellor’s Office wouldn’t honor our alternatives to policing taskforce, we sponsored Assembly Bill 1997 to require the CSU to convene a stakeholder workgroup to develop alternative options to current emergency response programs on campuses. Governor Newsom signed that bill into law in September 2022.

Tyre Nichols deserved better. Our CSU students deserve better. We all must take steps to end over policing and police violence and to eliminate anti-black racism in our communities.

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