Student groups look to maintain pressure on police as demands are not met
A week after protesters walked down Grand River Avenue to the East Lansing Police Department, the student groups that organized the protest are looking to take future action against the police, which did not to meet the group’s demands by their deadline Wednesday.
About a dozen students met Thursday night for a town hall to discuss the next steps in a in what some called “willful ignorance” in the face of community concerns regarding racial profiling and brutality.
Members of Students United, the Black Student Alliance and other groups discussed possible future efforts to gain more public attention to the demands that were made by protesters last Wednesday .
East Lansing resident and Students United member Crystal Gause was particularly concerned with the department’s use of military surplus equipment, which it has .
On Tuesday, East Lansing officials met with The State News to discuss a variety of topics, including the protesters’ demands.
"(The protesters) had some valid points and we’re willing to meet with them and talk with them and see what we can do,” East Lansing Police Captain Jeff Murphy told The State News on Tuesday.
But Murphy said he didn’t “think (the department is) going to meet all of the demands,” but was happy to discuss them.
Some of the demands, such as the use of body cameras by officers, are expensive to meet, Murphy said. Because the technology is relatively new, the cameras would not have the memory or battery capacity the department would need, officials said.
During the town hall, Gause discussed the meeting protesters had with East Lansing Police Chief Juli Liebler, and said she left disrespected by the refusal of all demands.
After debriefing members on previous protests and meetings, Gause asked all members of the media to leave the room, to maintain the secrecy of future plans.
MSU alumna Noah Saperstein said he never expected the police department to meet all the demands but was surprised at the dismissive nature the protesters were met with. Saperstein added that East Lansing police could have body cameras, despite the department noting the expensiveness of the equipment, if they delegated more funds to cameras instead of military surplus equipment.
“The police departments, they work with had enough money to buy M-16s, armored vehicles, body armor and things like that,” he said. “It’s not a matter of them having the revenue, but how they allocate it. That’s a reflection of them as a whole.”
Saperstein said the police department could very easily meet at least some of the demands the group had.
“If they wanted to it would be very easy for them to speak out against the violent action Ferguson police have taken,” he said.
Even smaller things, such as mounted officers using horses as “an intimidation tactic,” contribute to a culture of police aggression, he said.
Moving forward, Saperstein said the group is hoping to organize further activities in the future.
“We’re going to be setting up meetings to formalize the process,” he said. “And figuring out a way to structuring this newly formed organization, as a means to resist police oppression but more so as a means to implement change.”