The week of February 14th, New Students for a Democratic Society will host actions to defend our right to protest, free speech, and our First Amendment Rights, in a time when progressive organizations that protest are under attack. Ever since the start of the pandemic, we have seen cops, politicians, the White House, and university administrators ramp up penalties on protesters and brutalize activists. This wave of repression followed in the wake of the Justice for George Floyd protests in Summer 2020, along with the Justice for Jacob Blake protests and the surge of Black Lives Matter uprisings all across the country. We are taking this chance to say NO to these political attacks, to call for all charges on protesters to be dropped and for all bills and policies that demonize protesting ended. Instead of starving the people of Iran with sanctions and neglecting to honor the Iran nuclear deal, the US government should care for its own people and come to the defense of its protesters.

In Florida this March, DeSantis' anti-protest bill, House Bill 1, will be heard; this bill establishes new felonies for any participants in protests and uprisings and seeks to punish any local governments who defund or penalize police. In Minneapolis, over 646 protesters were arrested protesting for a conviction of Derek Chauvin and other MPD killer cops the day after Biden won the election; they were kenneled on the interstate. And across the country, such as the University of South Florida, university administrators have begun to detain and arrest student protesters who demand the defunding and disbanding of campus police.

In October 2020, we launched a national campaign to disband, defund, and control with CPACs our campus police forces. There is no use for such a huge force of police on every campus, armed with leftover military equipment sent from the Pentagon, in places of education; in fact, there is a direct correlation between the rise of student protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and the proliferation of campus police. We believe they play the same role on campuses today, as they brutalize protesters, harass and profile Black and Latinx students, and yet fail abysmally at resolving cases of domestic violence and stopping school shooters. Furthermore, in the wake of a new economic depression, universities have begun cutting jobs and academic programs; we believe that before any workers, classes, and scholastic programs, the very first place for administrators to cut should be the campus PD.

Protesting is not a crime. Organizing against budget cuts to save colleges and calling for the disbandment of campus police is not a crime. And standing for victims of police crimes is certainly not a crime. The real crime here is the silencing of the voices of the people, ringing loudly in our protests and our movements, and the attack on our rights to free speech and right to protest. The charges on the Minneapolis 646+ must be dropped, as must the charges on protesters in Tampa from February 9th; House Bill 1 must be stopped. Students must band together to continue organizing alongside the movement for justice for victims of police crimes, calling for civilian police accountability councils (CPACs), fighting on their campuses to defund and disband campus police, and organizing in defense of the nationwide movement for Black liberation. We must beat back these attacks and defend everyone who joins our movement, and we call on all SDS chapters and affiliates to do the same.