NU Community Not Cops started marching daily on Oct. 12 — and student organizers say they don’t plan on stopping until Northwestern commits to abolishing University Police. Below are two timelines: one chronicling Northwestern students’ demands to divest from police since June, another documenting the Northwestern community’s statements supporting and condemning student protestors. These timelines will be updated frequently to aggregate new developments and community reactions.
Northwestern forms new Community Safety Advisory Board chaired by Prof. Clyde Yancy
The University is forming a new Community Safety Advisory Board in response to recent advocacy globally and at NU to rethink policing. The board will meet monthly and Feinberg Prof. Clyde Yancy will serve as chair.
Angela Davis engages community, student abolitionists in annual State of the Black Union
Over 1,600 people logged on to the 90-minute event hosted by For Members Only, as activist and scholar Angela Davis discussed systemic racism, political activism, police and prison abolition.
Kaibigan, APAC join NUCNC, stand in solidarity with movement to abolish NUPD
NU Community Not Cops collaborated with the Asian Pacific American Coalition and Kaibigan, the Philippine-American student association, to show how Black and Asian American communities have a shared stake in the international prison-industrial complex.
NUCNC and FMO talk transformative justice ahead of Angela Davis address
About 70 students dug into questions like “Who is justice for?” in the final teach-in of the week, which came one day before FMO’s State of the Black Union, where activist and academic Angela Davis will speak.
NUCNC releases statement addressing residents’ concerns, supporting EFBL
As a result of portrayals from local media which rely heavily on police sources and a lack of context in reporting, many residents have not been informed of the movement’s motivations, the statement said.
NUCNC and FMO host teach-in on the history of prison abolition
At the teach-in, presenters asked participants to question what crime is and think about the role criminalization plays in the prison-industrial complex. Criminalization, one presenter said, makes “a facet of one reality or identity” a crime, which can alter the broader perceptions of those identities.
NUCNC, student protesters eating 'breakfast' and reading abolitionist literature met with unprecedented police presence
Student protesters demanding the abolition of University Police were met with a heavy police presence — armed police in riot gear from the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System’s Mobile Field Force, several K-9 vehicles and Evanston Police Department officers equipped with a police van. There were at least 70 officers for a crowd of no more than 60 protesters.
NUCNC and FMO co-host teach-in on policing alternatives
“Our current social system assumes that police are, one, capable of properly assessing a situation they have no previous involvement in,” the presenter at the Nov. 9 event said, “And then two, they are justified in using violence, based on their assessment of that situation.”
Northwestern names Robin Means Coleman as new chief diversity officer
“She will help us realize the University’s commitments to equity and inclusion, during a time when we, as a University and a country, grapple with pervasive anti-Blackness and the inequitable effects of a global pandemic,” Provost Kathleen Hagerty said in a release.
NUCNC partners with NU Dissenters to discuss militarism at NU
At the teach-in, presenters discussed the harmful effects of militarism and called for the University to divest from companies that contribute to militarism. “The reality of militarism is that we don’t actually need it,” a presenter said. “We already have things that keep us safe.”
NUCNC explains differences between police reform and abolition
A central tenet of abolitionist thought, one organizer stated, is that police do not keep the community safe. Rather, she said safety should come from the continued building and development of strong relationships and connected communities.
FMO to host activist Angela Davis at this year’s State of the Black Union
A major figure in the prison abolition movement, Davis has been one of the most influential activists in the country for half a century as an advocate for Black liberation. Her name has become synonymous with calls for transformative justice and abolishing the prison-industrial complex.
Evanston Fight for Black Lives decries police violence in statement about Saturday NUCNC protest
“When EPD and NUPD used violence against protesters last night, they upheld the systems that Northwestern Community Not Cops sought to abolish — the marginalization of Black Evanston residents by the policing system,” organizers wrote. “The resistance of protesters at the march was in response to centuries of anti-Black violence. When communities are oppressed by state violence, the natural impulse is to resist.”
Northwestern Graduate Workers condemn Sunday police escalation, reprehend Schapiro email
“Last night proved once again that it is heavily armed, militarized police who create and escalate violence,” NUGW wrote. “As NUCNC has long argued, and as we unfortunately saw on display last evening, the police do not, and never will, keep us safe.”
Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty responds to Saturday NUCNC protest
After police arrested one Northwestern student and used chemical ammunition against protestors Saturday, Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty wrote an open letter to University President Morton Schapiro addressing the NU Community Not Cops protests and their impact on the city.
Students pepper-sprayed, one arrested during Halloween action to abolish NUPD
Evanston police and Illinois crowd control officers, deployed in riot gear with K-9 support, used chemical ammunition and made one arrest during an Oct. 31 anti-policing protest led by NU Community Not Cops.
NUCNC partners with NUGW, hosts speakers in Friday teach-in
After gathering at The Rock, marchers headed to the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Church Street, where they formed a large circle. There, NU Community Not Cops and NU Graduate Workers hosted a teach-in, featuring a broad range of speakers with abolitionist messages.
NUCNC marches in honor of Walter Wallace Jr., stands with Philadelphia protests
Students led by NU Community Not Cops marched to the Evanston Police Department precinct in honor of Walter Wallace Jr. — a 27-year-old Black man who Philadelphia police fatally shot Monday while he was experiencing a mental health crisis — and in solidarity with protests that have erupted in Philadelphia as a response.
President Schapiro promises UP budgetary review by Nov. 16, dialogue and change on police reform
University President Morton Schapiro gave updates on Northwestern’s commitments to efforts in support of Black lives after a week of backlash to his condemnation of student protests.
How conversations about anti-Semitism divided a campus
After President Morton Schapiro's Oct. 19 email, a longtime division reappeared (virtually) on Northwestern’s campus: Jewish community members and protesters aligned with NUCNC, some of whom overlap in identities, entered an online debate about the roles of anti-Semitism, Zionism, abolition and racism — leaving many frustrated and hurt by fellow students’ words.
NUCNC protests police outside football season opener, stands with Black athletes
Students led by Northwestern Community Not Cops demonstrated at the perimeter of Ryan Field during the Maryland vs. Northwestern game, marking 13 straight days of protests demanding the abolition of University Police.
NUCNC, Fossil Free Northwestern host protest for divestment from police, fossil fuels
After 11 days of protests calling for the abolition of University Police, NU Community Not Cops partnered with Fossil Free NU to host “A People’s History of Northwestern” — a Friday night event marking the group’s 12th consecutive day of action, recognizing past and present student activists at the University.
SOLR teams up with NU Community Not Cops to demand divestment from police, investment in service workers and Black lives
On its 11th day of actions demanding the abolition of University Police, NU Community Not Cops joined Students Organizing for Labor Rights to call for the University to reinvest its policing funds in community care.
President Schapiro stands by controversial email condemning protestors in Community Dialogue
After a week of abolitionist organizing on campus, University President Morton Schapiro’s email condemning student protests and the hashtag #ResignMorty trending on social media, Schapiro declared in a virtual dialogue he “(doesn’t) walk back a single word.”
NU Community Not Cops calls on President Schapiro to resign following his condemnation of abolitionist protests
Standing outside University President Morton Schapiro’s house, students led by Northwestern Community Not Cops, a campaign demanding the abolition of University Police, called for Schapiro’s resignation.
President Schapiro says Northwestern has “absolutely no intention” to abolish NUPD
In an email, University President Morton Schapiro wrote that while Northwestern has intentions to improve University Police, it has “absolutely no intention” to abolish it.
African American Studies department calls on NU administrators to deliver on racial justice commitments
Northwestern’s African American Studies department published a statement urging the University to follow through on racial justice commitments and recenter Black lives in talks of anti-racism.
Students start daily marches, don't plan on stopping until Northwestern abolishes NUPD
NU Community Not Cops started marching daily on Oct. 12 — and the organization said they don’t plan on stopping until the University commits to abolishing UP. Students ended the first march at Schapiro’s home, where they were met by police presence.
Northwestern updates community on fulfilling commitments to racial and social justice
Northwestern administrators updated the community in an email on its ongoing efforts outlined in June to advance racial and social justice on campus.
Administrators commit to transparency and cultural change, but not to divesting from Northwestern police
Northwestern administrators made commitments to be more transparent about staff diversity and creating a cultural change on campus, but wouldn’t commit to divesting from University Police, in a Zoom meeting with students.
Students urge Northwestern to address issues of police divestment
“As black students who go to this University and have been witnesses to all the anti-black things Northwestern has done, not just as an institution but on an individual level, professors, faculty, staff, etc., we realized we can do more," said the media liason for NU Community Not Cops.
About 70 students march around Evanston during Northwestern's virtual commencement calling on the university to divest from law enforcement
Students walked from President Morton Schapiro's house into downtown Evanston, stopping by the Northwestern University Police Department and shutting down several areas along the way.
Northwestern administrators commit to social justice policies addressing racism and bias on its campuses
The email came two weeks after administrators released a statement about the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, which did not include the word “police,” nor mention that it was the police who killed Floyd and Taylor.
Students call on Northwestern to divest from police forces and invest in Black communities
Black undergraduate and graduate students jointly released a June 3 petition calling on the University to sever ties with all affiliated policing and military entities and to redirect the funds to institutions that serve black students’ wellbeing.
Legal Studies faculty and staff stand in solidarity with African American Studies Department's concerns
“In our Legal Studies courses, we ask students to consider the relationship between institutional power and the community it governs by examining the role of formal legal institutions, exploring elite and grassroots action in pushing for legal and institutional reform, critiquing the use of facially neutral language to obscure deeply discriminatory policy, revealing the way discretion can be used and abused, and confronting the difficulty of holding authorities accountable. Our own campus institutions are not and should not be immune from this analysis.” Statement in full.
Anthropology graduate students write in support of NU Community Not Cops
“As graduate students in the Department of Anthropology, we recognize our position as members of a discipline with profoundly racist and colonial roots. Anthropology has been and continues to be an extractivist discipline that allows white scholars to build careers based on Black and Brown people’s lives. The conversation we are now having as a university community should be centered on the voices of those most oppressed.” Statement in full.
Religious Studies faculty stands with demands to "rethink the necessity" of UP
“We ask President Shapiro [sic] to recognize that the current moment calls for faster-than-normal responses to members of our community who are finally able to express criticism, call for systemic change and even revolt.” Statement in full.
Art History Department
“We expect nothing less than swift and decisive action to address anti-Black and other forms of institutional racism at Northwestern University and pledge to unite in support of such anti-racist actions.” Statement in full.
Plant Biology and Conservation Program
“Leadership must be committed to meaningful engagement and action, with the goal of dismantling structures that impede racial justice and creating an environment where racial equity is realized.” Statement in full.
MENA Department endorses “Letter of Concern” signed by hundreds of faculty and staff
“We reaffirm our commitment to racial equity and justice in higher education and society as a whole, and recognize that racist policing and racial inequity at Northwestern places our students and colleagues at risk.” Statement in full.
CNAIR affiliates support student-led protests and demands
“As Indigenous people and/or scholars of Indigeneity and race, we know the relationship between anti-Blackness and policing is real, deadly, and situated in the settler colonial origins of the nation-state and Northwestern. We stand in solidarity with Black activists and scholars and recognize our goals of the resurgence of Indigenous lifeways and tribal sovereignty are necessarily tied to Black liberation. We will not stand for anti-Blackness on Indigenous land.” Statement in full.
Music Studies department
““The work being done by student activists of color should be not only an inspiration for others, but serve as the starting point for the work those of us in any positions of power can do to reinforce their efforts.” Statement in full.
Black Law Student Association
“How can this institution ‘support vigorous debate and the free expression of ideas’ while implicitly silencing voices of its community members? In addition to being law students at the prestigious institution that is Northwestern, many of us belong to the communities you have publicly sanctioned for their demands of justice.” Statement in full.
History Department Graduate Students
“In fighting for abolition in our lifetimes, NUCNC is among this long legacy of freedom fighters who are working to disrupt the patterns of anti-Black and settler colonial criminalization, surveillance, and punishment that persist so long as police and policing remain central features of American governance.” Statement in full.
STEM students, researchers, faculty and staff
“As STEM workers, we have to realize that our humanity is not separate from our work. We have to stand in solidarity with our Black and brown colleagues. To say Black Lives Matter is the bare minimum. To show Black Lives Matter is to abolish racist institutions like the police.” Statement in full.
Northwestern Graduate Workers
“Our graduate worker movement is stronger, sharper, and more resilient when we are able to see the many ways that Northwestern University harms multiple communities on this campus, all of which include Black people. Only when Black people are safe are we all safe.” Statement in full.
American Studies Program
“We are particularly concerned about language that pits ethnic and racial groups against each other at a time where solidarity and alliances are crucial to making progress toward a more just society. Historically, wedges have been used to divide communities and obscure their common interests." Statement in full.
NU Library staff sign onto a call for Ivy+ libraries to divest from police and prisons and invest in life-giving resources
“In order to build and sustain transformative justice practices that align with the core ethical tenets of librarianship — centering the care, privacy, and thriving of library patrons and staff — we seek increased autonomy from and the eventual abolition of policing in library spaces.” Statement in full.
History and Sociology Faculty
"As scholars of race and racism, of policing, of hate speech, of protest and social movements, we understand the gravity of the problems the protesters are raising and the difficulties facing them in attempting to achieve meaningful change."
Letter signed by about 500 faculty and staff across all undergraduate schools, multiple departments and offices around campus
“Month after month, you have distributed muted, highly abstract, and non-specific statements about several traumatic events, here on campus or elsewhere in the nation—including the murders and maimings of Black people of all genders at the hands of police, who routinely suffer no repercussion.” Statement in full.
Religious Studies graduate students
“Your letter cycles with each word into a stronger hatred of local protests, naming such protests as ‘menac(ing)’ and a ‘disgrace’ that causes you ‘disgust.’ What should disgust us is police brutality and policing. What should disgust us is the taking of Black lives. What should disgust us is the highest, most powerful institutional actor at Northwestern using his authority to shame protesters. This should disgust us.” Statement in fall.
Performance Studies department faculty
“We hope, in particular, to see the University transformed into a place that elevates, supports, and nourishes, rather than threatens, Black members of the community. We teach and aim to model to our students — indeed, we learn from them — that difficult conversations are necessary, and that we need to move past the uneasiness they cause.” Statement in full.
Global Health Studies program
“We also affirm our solidarity with and support for ongoing racial justice movements, including recent @CopsOutofNU protests of racist policing and anti-Black police brutality, and their demands for divestment from NUPD and investment in Black communities at Northwestern. We call on President Schapiro to mobilize university leadership to meaningfully address concerns expressed by the student protesters and by Northwestern’s African American Studies Department, outlined in their October 15 and October 20 letters.” Statement in full.
Political Science faculty “dissent” from views expressed in Schapiro email
“Our President’s response was antithetical to the spirit of strong, visionary and compassionate leadership that is unafraid of meeting the students where they are and of listening to their concerns and demands with respect, reciprocity and generosity.”
Anthropology department, Asian American Studies, Latina and Latino Studies programs condemn Schapiro email
“We call on President Schapiro and university leadership to address the concerns and urgent recommendations of the Department of African American Studies, as outlined in their letters of Oct. 15 and Oct. 20, by taking swift, decisive action to address anti-Black racism and racial-colonial violence in all its forms at Northwestern University.”
Evanston NAACP’s Michael Nabors issues statement about Northwestern protests
“No one engaging in a just protest against racism can be anti-Semitic or have biases against any other group. That is hypocrisy. At the same time, I am concerned language (sic) coming forth from the Office of the President… Such language makes it difficult to provide the opportunity for conversation, mediation and finding common ground.”
Political Science Department’s graduate student body call on President Schapiro to work with student activists, enact concrete policy change
“With your email, you are sending a clear message to students, the broader Northwestern community, and the world: contentious political action is not welcome as a valid form of expression on our campus. We do not accept this premise.”
Environmental Policy and Culture program stands in support and solidarity with the Department of African American Studies and the Black community at Northwestern
“This demand includes leadership that demonstrates commitment through action, resources, and relationships to anti-racism and dismantling the structures within Northwestern that perpetuate injustice.”
Football: Senior JR Pace urges fans to hear voices of Black athletes as team prepares for season opener
“This isn’t over. Until we all commit to listening, learning, educating and action, nothing will change. If you cheer for us, hear us.”
African American Studies Department faculty send response to President Schapiro’s email
“It is only when your own pleasant suburban life was disrupted by student protestors that your expression of outrage and dismay to our University community rose to a level beyond the banal, the tepid and the timid.”