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Hundreds Of Bates Students Protest Campus Safety Officers' Use Of Force

Patty Wight
Maine Public
Protesters at Bates College on Friday.

More than 200 students at Bates College in Lewiston turned out for a campus protest on Friday, demanding that administrators disarm and defund campus safety officers.

Patty Wight
Bates protesters decorate a banner on Friday.

The protest was sparked by a March incident in which a campus safety officer tackled and handcuffed a student who had been drinking alcohol and refused to identify himself. Junior Ashka Jhaveri says the March incident uncovered systemic problems.

"It is abundantly clear that Bates campus safety can and does abuse its power to harm students and other members of our community," she says.

More than 500 students have signed a petition demanding that safety officers be prohibited from carrying batons and handcuffs.

The vice president for campus life sent an email to students earlier this week, announcing that the use of batons was being immediately suspended. Bates says it's considering the other demands and is awaiting the results of an outside assessment of its campus safety program.