San Diego State students demand change from campus police

by Kayla Jimenez and Jasmine Bermudez

Two San Diego State student groups will request a list of reforms from the campus police department at next month’s open forum with Captain Joshua Mays as a result of Marquis Campbell’s arrest two weeks ago.

The Africana Major and Minor Studies Association and MultiCultural Coalition organized a protest outside of Starbucks in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union on Sept. 24 to encourage university officials to drop arrest charges against him and propose these reforms.

“This rally is to shine light on the issue of police violence against people,” said junior political science major and the association’s president, Zakkiyya West. “This could have been anyone. People must not look at this as an isolated incident.”

The groups are requesting transparency and reporting, training to de-escalate situations, keeping track of police racial profiling and a student review board with representatives from cultural organizations, West said.

West said the purpose of the rally was to address police brutality, but they allowed students to express themselves on handheld signs. She said some of the students felt that the Black Lives Matters movement needed to be addressed on their signs.

“When you’re an officer of the law, you have to be aware of not only your safety but the individual safety,” she said. “The officers have overlooked that.”

Campbell is currently being charged with two counts of resisting an officer and two counts of resisting an executive officer, according to an e-mail from Tanya Sierra, public affairs officer for the San Diego County District Attorney.

He is currently in San Diego Central Jail on $20,000 bail, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department website.

Representatives from the association encouraged protesters in attendance to call President Elliot Hirshman to drop all charges against Campbell.

“Whenever issues happen with people of color, President Hirshman is nowhere to be found,” West said. “He in no shape or form is showing any type of leadership by hiding in his office and not speaking to students.”

Rulette Armstead, retired San Diego Police Department assistant chief of police, said university officials have no control over whether or not he is being charged. That decision is up to the district attorney.

Students at the protest supported AMMA’s approach to support Campbell and his family.

“He wasn’t armed, he did not need excessive force like that,” senior psychology major Judith Howell said.  “Two men were tackling one man, and it was just very excessive and very disturbing. Regardless of what he was doing, he was, in my opinion just from the video, very respectful.”

Senior interdisciplinary studies major Korey Miller said the protest was informative for those passing by who were uninformed about what the student groups were asking for.

“Sometimes people think that when students of color get together it has to be invasive or unorganized,” Miller said. “This was not that. This rally was very empowering to be able to come together and say this is what we stand for and this is what we won’t stand for.” 

Dean of Students Randy Timm sent out guidelines for free speech on campus to West and her professor who asked to have it before the protest.

“Any time that people decide to have a rally or protest on campus we want them to be aware of the guidelines that are out there,” Timm said. “Ultimately we are trying to make sure that classes can continue and normal businesses can continue.”

Timm said he thought the protest was great.

“This is why we are here,” Timm said. “We are making sure students have the opportunity to protest and really exercise their rights. This is their opportunity to do so.”

Campbell’s trial is set for Oct. 6. SDSUPD referred all requests for comment to the communications office of the university.

SDSU Chief Communications Officer Greg Block declined to comment on Monday’s protest.

“I urge everybody to have their voice heard,” Miller said. “Don’t just go ahead and think this is a group of radical students, educate yourself, be informed and then make your own decisions.”

Senior Staff Writer Will Fritz contributed to this story.