Student protesters call on New Haven, Yale to defund police forces

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — High School and college students and community activists banded together Saturday to call for the defunding of the Yale Police Department.

They started on the New Haven Green, marched through the streets of New Haven, and ended up at the Yale Police headquarters.

When asked why they believe the campus police department should be defunded, protester Chantal Gibson said, “You can clearly see in New Haven where Yale is paying for things and where the city is paying for things is a problem.”

Gibson added, “Yale should not be putting their money into policing. They should be putting it into building up the community that they live in. Yale is part of our community.”

Over a year ago, a Yale police officer was suspended and reassigned to administrative duty after he opened fire on an unarmed African-American couple in their car in New Haven. The officer, Terrance Pollock, was not charged in the shooting.

“The police are being protected because they’re not being held accountable,” one protestor told News8.

We asked Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins about Officer Pollock.

“He was taken off the street,” Chief Higgins said. “He is still employed.”

Chief Higgins would not say what his specific job role is now.

“He no longer wears a uniform or carries a weapon,” he said. “He’s been disciplined.”

“It’s not enough accountability,” said New Haven community organizer Kerry Ellington, who spoke at the protest. “We want officers who have complaints of excessive force fired from the department.”

Ellington also spoke to the crowd calling for New Haven Mayor Justin Ellicker to defund the New Haven PD.

“The mayor is required for the fiscal year of 2020 to make two million dollar cuts in city departments at his discretion,” Ellington said. “We want that full, absolute two million dollars in cuts to be made by the New Haven Police Department budget.”

She’s calling for the mayor to disband the New Haven Police Department the following year.

“And the funds defunded from that budget be diverted and reinvested into affordable housing and into public schools to improve the well-being of our communities,” Ellington said.

Police estimate the protest drew as many as 400 people. It was peaceful. No word of any arrests.

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