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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

Student groups plan Monday protest disavowing decision to arm GWPD officers

Interim+President+Mark+Wrighton+announced+plans+Thursday+to+equip+roughly+20+of+GWPD%E2%80%99s+force+of+50+officers+with+9+mm+handguns+by+the+fall+semester.
Caroline Moore | Photographer
Interim President Mark Wrighton announced plans Thursday to equip roughly 20 of GWPD’s force of 50 officers with 9 mm handguns by the fall semester.

At least half a dozen student organizations will protest the University’s decision to arm about 20 GW Police Department officers Monday afternoon.

Protesters will gather with signs, banners and drums in Kogan Plaza at 1 p.m. Monday and march down F Street to condemn the Board of Trustees’ decision to arm GWPD officers starting this fall. Interim University President Mark Wrighton announced plans Thursday to equip roughly 20 of GWPD’s force of 50 officers with 9 mm handguns by the fall semester in response to heightened gun violence on college campuses.

“This is an attack on black and brown students,” the announcement post from all six student organizations reads. “This is an attack on the poor and the working class. This is an attack on D.C. residents, who will almost certainly be brutalized by an armed GWPD.”

Sunrise GW, Students Against Imperialism, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, GW Black Defiance and GW Dissenters – along with the District-based group Shut Down DC, a grassroots social justice organization – have each promoted the protest.

Posters promoting the protest appeared on lampposts and electrical boxes throughout campus Friday night.

“TELL WRIGHTON AND TRUSTEES: NO GUNS 4 GWPD!” the posters state.

Wrighton said in an email to the GW community Thursday that the decision to arm GWPD officers stems from recent shootings on college campuses like the University of Virginia and Michigan State University, which each killed three students and injured two and five students, respectively. He said the University’s “densely populated setting” makes it necessary to arm officers who are familiar with GW’s campus and community.

“You see in the news, sadly, virtually every day, violence that stems from the use of guns,” Wrighton said in an interview with The Hatchet. “We know that this is a huge problem. I’ve seen educational institutions, including higher-education institutions, very seriously affected.”

Wrighton’s email states officials took more than a year to consider the decision to arm GWPD officers.

GWPD Chief James Tate said officials will train supervising officers ranked sergeant or higher on use-of-force policies and firearm use over the summer.

Tate said he spoke with leaders from the Student Association, the Black Student Union and members of Fraternity and Sorority Life, who advised him to continue outreach with students as GWPD implements its new firearm policies. Students can submit feedback on GWPD’s website and Tate said he will post a draft of the new use-of-force policies when finished for students to examine.

“The only way I know to assuage fears and concern is to make sure that I set the tone at the very top of GWPD in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” Tate said. “And then we hold the line.”

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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