Johns Hopkins students are at loggerheads with the school after it announced the creation of a private police force on Tuesday.
The Baltimore school has appointed Massachusetts police commissioner, Branville Bard Jr., to lead institution security. Beginning August 30, Bard will “play a leading role in the development and implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department,” the school announced.
Bard’s appointment has infuriated students who believe that the university has intentionally made the appointment while students and staff are away from campus. Bard’s appointment comes a year after the university halted plans to create a private police force in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
“We believe fundamentally in the need for all members of our communities to have trust and confidence in the leadership of our public safety operations,” the university officials said in their statement.
‘They’re Not Listening to Us’
Concerned that university officials believe force is necessary to protect students “in a city with high rates of violent crime,” students, employees, and Baltimore residents fear that a private police force will discriminate against people of color.
Students took to social media to protest the appointment of commissioner Bard.
“This was always the plan, to deflect from the national uprisings, then wait until the coast is clear to hire a police commissioner who has defended corruption in his department,” Johns Hopkins medical student Andrew S. Eneim tweeted.
Wonder where everyone who said “well it’s been paused for 2-years so just wait” is now. This was always the plan, deflect from the national uprisings, then wait until the coast is clear to hire a police commissioner who has defended corruption is his department. https://t.co/NSx5fV1cSf
— Andrew S Eneim (@aneneim) July 27, 2021
Another university group, the Coalition Against Policing by Hopkins, wrote, “A Johns Hopkins police force will lead to more racial profiling and an increased risk of brutality for … students and employees and members of the surrounding community.”
Residents of the surrounding Baltimore community are also disheartened to hear about the university’s plans. Donald Gresham, an East Baltimore resident who joined demonstrations against police brutality, called John Hopkins’ decision a “plantational” move that would disproportionately affect people of color.
“This institution doesn’t hear anything besides its own voice,” he told The Baltimore Sun. “They’re not listening to us.”