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Protesters Occupy University Of Chicago Police Headquarters Demanding Department Be Abolished

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Protesters have locked themselves inside the campus police headquarters at the University of Chicago, and now they say officers won't let anyone bring them food.

They have been holding a sit-in since Friday afternoon.

Other students gathered outside overnight to support the activists.

They want the school to abolish the university's police department.

In a statement the university said it supports free speech but does not want protests to disrupt the university operations.

The university released the following statement about the protest:

"At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, UCPD Chief Kenton Rainey spoke with protestors inside the 6054 S. Drexel Avenue building and reiterated that he has set aside time on Monday at 8:00 am to meet with organizers. Protestors' continued presence inside the building is creating a safety hazard due to the COVID pandemic and the University has asked repeatedly that protestors leave the building. At all times, protestors have been, and continue to be, free to leave. If desired, they are free to protest safely outside of the building.

Additional Background

At 11:40 p.m., a University leader sent a message to one of the protest organizers to reiterate health and safety concerns and that Chief Rainey and Provost Lee would agree to a meeting early next week. She stated: "While I know that some of your group had contact with the deans-on-call … earlier today, I just want to reiterate my concerns about the health and safety of you all being in a space that makes physical distancing very difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to make sure that you know that if anyone in the group wants to leave tonight, they should let the officers know and arrangements can be made to get students home safely.

… Chief Rainey can meet with a representative group from the campaign at 8 AM on Monday morning. Provost Lee can also meet with you early next week (Monday or Tuesday) at a mutually convenient time. These meetings will be contingent on your group's safe and voluntary departure from the Drexel lobby."

As part of our commitment to free expression, the University is fundamentally committed to upholding the rights of protesters to express a wide range of views. University policies also make it clear that demonstrations cannot jeopardize safety or disrupt the University's operations and the ability of people in the University to carry out their work. Of equal concern for the University is the health and safety of all students and our neighboring communities, which actions such as flooding Dean-on-Call and UCPD phone lines have jeopardized.

As UCPD Chief Kenton Rainey stated in a recent University Town Hall, he remains committed to having a dialogue about the best ways to achieve public safety."

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