On the two-year anniversary of Jason Washington’s death by Portland State University police, PSU president Stephen Percy announced plans for a scholarship in Washington’s honor and an art piece on campus.
“These are critical steps on our collective healing journey and provide lasting reminders that from grief and tragedy we must learn and we must change,” said Percy in a statement announcing the actions.
A campus memorial to Washington was one of the demands by campus group Disarm PSU Now, a group of students, faculty and alumni calling for the removal of officers on campus.
Over 150 public comments were submitted to PSU’s Board of Trustees at their meeting earlier this month. Most of them called for disarming campus officers and finding alternative ways to maintain safety on campus.
“Our path to healing, learning and changing will include significant work at PSU, including considering our approaches to campus safety and taking a bold look at the ways systemic racism and anti-blackness show up on our campus,” Percy said.
PSU recently named a new Chief of Campus Public Safety, Willie Halliburton. A release announcing the move said Halliburton is committed to “community engagement, open communication, and fostering a collaborative approach to campus safety.”
The renewed call to disband campus police comes after nationwide protests against police brutality after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Earlier this month, Disarm PSU held a rally to reiterate their calls for alternatives to police officers on campus.
“This moment is not just about George Floyd, but about all of those we lost over the years to a national apparatus of unaccountable police violence,” Washington’s daughter Kayla said at the June 12 event.
Washington, a Black man, was killed by campus police June 29, 2018, after witnesses say he was trying to break up a fight.
The Washington family and Disarm PSU will hold a vigil and march on campus Monday night to mark the anniversary of Washington’s death.