Johns Hopkins students hold protest over school contracts with ICE, private police

Students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have reportedly been participating in a weeklong sit-in to protest their school's contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private police forces.

The Hopkins Coalition Against ICE and the Students Against Private Police are leading the sit-in, which began as a community march last week, Newsweek reported Wednesday.

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“Essentially, the same anti-democratic practices that led to Hopkins ramming this police force through are the same anti-democratic practices that allow Hopkins to continue against huge community opposition, huge faculty opposition, as well as, student opposition to continue ICE contracts,” Conor Bean, a graduate student at the university and member of the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE, told Newsweek.

Bean said the turnout in Garland Hall has been "inspiring."

“At this point, as long as they keep coming we have no intention of ending this,” Bean told Newsweek. “We can’t tell these people to leave. They’ve really built a home here in a kind of radically democratic space that’s really hard to find, especially in today’s America.”

According to its Facebook page, the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE believes the agency commits “human rights abuses against immigrants” and that the university should stop signing contracts with it.

Students Against Private Police, meanwhile, says private police forces lead to “racialized policing, the gentrification of surrounding communities, and investment into research that expands the surveillance state.”

The university's assistant vice president of external relations, Karen Lancaster, told Newsweek that school officials were working with students to ensure safety.

"Johns Hopkins University embraces and fosters a culture of free expression and debate," Lancaster said. "We worked with our students several years ago to develop guidelines to support student protests, which have allowed us to ensure a safe environment as students and others in our university community express their views on a broad range of issues."

The two student organizations are planning a rally at 7 p.m. Wednesday.