Petition calls for UH to cut ties with HPD, other action ‘to seek real justice for George Floyd’
In the days following Third Ward native George Floyd’s death, a petition demanding President Renu Khator to cancel contracts with the Houston Police Department, create an “anti-racism task force” to oversee the University and take 11 other listed actions has gained steam.
Led by master’s in social work candidate Micaela Rodriguez, the petition, which is more than halfway to its goal of 800 signatures, advocates for Khator to take actions beyond her statement on Floyd’s death and “step into her leadership role.”
“I call on University of Houston students, staff, faculty and alumni to demand President Renu Khator use her platform to speak out against police violence and lead UH in revolutionary change,” Rodriguez said in the petition.
The petition discusses the University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel cutting ties with the Minneapolis Police Department after Floyd’s death, comparing it to the statement UH made on Twitter. It further goes to demand Khator follow Gabel’s example and parallel the University of Minnesota’s actions with HPD
“Gabel’s statement issued a decree to cut University ties with MPD, which sent an undeniable message that the institution is no longer willing to perpetuate police brutality by funding contracts with MPD,” Rodriguez said.
Other action items the petition asks Khator to take are taking 10 percent of her annual salary and committing it to Houston bailout funds, require the Provost Summer Reading Program to promote black authors and support local advocacy groups desiring changes from HPD.
Besides relations with HPD, the petition also asks the University to address gentrification in the Third Ward and UH’s connection to it. The University accelerates gentrification, the petition said, by building student housing, raising the costs of off-campus housing in surrounding areas and pushing out previous residents.
“The relationship between gentrification and increased policing cannot be overstated,” Rodriguez said. If the University has a vested interest in reducing or preventing police brutality they must also address their role in gentrification.”
Beyond the items listed on the petition, it asks for continuous evaluation on what the University can do moving forward.
“This list of demands is not exhaustive but requires further ongoing discussion about how we can improve as individuals, and as an institution,” Rodriguez said.