UMass Police Drop Public Arrest Records



Source: UMass Transformative Justice Coalition

In response to pressure from staff, faculty, students, and families concerned with the privacy and safety of the campus community, the University of Massachusetts Police Department (UMPD) has changed its daily crime log policy. Rather than posting addresses and names of people who have been arrested online via the UMPD website, daily crime log information will now only be available in person at the UMPD building, which is consistent with statutory requirements that crime logs be publicly released. The UMPD has removed past logs from its website, making it more difficult for the public to access home addresses and other identifying information of people who have been arrested.

Members of the Transformative Justice Coalistion (TJC) became aware that crime logs were being posted online when, on November 3, the UMPD posted the names and addresses of 57 students and staff who had been arrested for trespassing on October 25 while peacefully protesting. The protestors wished to present their demands to Chancellor Reyes, calling on UMass to cut ties with companies like Raytheon, whose weapons are currently being used in Israeli attacks on Palestine. The extant UMPD policy to post identifying information online resulted in several students and their parents being the targets of anonymous threats and intimidation. Members of the campus community called on administrators and the UMPD to change this policy.

The TJC has previously announced additional requests. Since October 26, the TJC and other groups on campus have called on the administration to stop punishing students and staff engaged in peaceful protest. To that end, the group gathered signatures on two petitions. The first calls on Chancellor Reyes and Vice Chancellor Perdomo-Ahmed to take no disciplinary action against those arrested, and has been signed by 1025 individuals to date. The second petition asks the District Attorney to drop the criminal charges arrestees are facing and has 451 signatures to date.

Although the UMass administration has taken one important step in recognizing the threat and damage that policing and punishment can bring, there is much work left to be done, the group says. The arrested students and staff continue to face criminal charges and disciplinary proceedings. UMass has begun issuing probation and additional punishments, but the group says that the administration has not engaged in further dialogue with the students and staff who were arrested. UMass has not acknowledged or attempted to repair the sexist and heterosexist patterns in these arrests, the group asserts, where some students were misgendered and masc-presenting students were arrested later, detained longer, and subject to harsher detainment conditions. UMass policing practices are also repeatedly identified as harsh, violent, racist, sexist, and oppressive in ways that divide campus communities rather than bringing them together or ensure safety, the group claims.

The TJC has called upon the administration to embrace conflict resolution strategies that reduce harm, strengthen community, build safety for all community members, and dismantle systems that cause systemic, disproportionate harm

A protest was held on Thursday, December 7 outside the Whitmore Administration Building at UMass Amherst in support of the arrested students, organized by the newly-founded UMass chapter of Faculty for Justice in Palestine. 

About the TJC
Many members of the UMass community have joined together to read about, reflect on, and implement transformative and restorative practices. The TJC invites the administration and all members of our community to continue promoting learning and reflecting on harm reduction, healing, community building, and systemic change as solutions to harm and conflict. The TJC is a cross-union working group made up of staff, faculty, graduate student workers and undergraduates at UMass Amherst working to advance transformative justice across campus as “a way of ‘making things right,’ getting in ‘right relation,’ or creating justice together” to quote Mia Mingus in Leaving Evidence.

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1 thought on “UMass Police Drop Public Arrest Records

  1. What I want to know is why someone who protests publicly would subsequently not want to be publicly identified with that very protest. This tempest over public disclosure seems ironic, contradictory and fundamentally hypocritical.

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