Abolitionist Action Central Coast SLO (AACCS) will host an action at the Grand Avenue entrance to Cal Poly on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m to rally, hold teach-ins and distribute mutual aid to Cal Poly Resident Advisors (RAs) and students. 

The action is in solidarity with the #CopsOffCampus movement, which is inspiring similar actions in universities state-wide.

What is AACCS?

AACCS is a project between Cal Poly Black Student Union (BSU), Cal Poly Students for Quality Education (SQE), Black and Indigenous students and other community members of color, according to their website. The organization was formed in June 2020, and they they are not directly affiliated with Cal Poly.

Their website also states that they are an “explicitly abolitionist group” whose goal is to address the violence of the carceral system in the Central Coast. They draw their inspiration from Black radical tradition and feminist-of-color theory and practice, and they focus much of their work into political education and mutual aid projects, their website read.

Electrical engineering senior Alejandro Bupara, history senior Claire Lopez and environmental management and protection senior Linda Moore are all senior officers with AACCS. One of the main things that AACCS fights for is public spending on the common good, which for them involves “divestment from all forms of state control,” Bupara said.

“We are fighting for divestment from policing, prisons and all forms of state control; and investment in our communities,” Bupara said “We do all of the behind-the-scenes work necessary to make that happen in addition to direct action.”

Bupara said it is important for a community like San Luis Obispo to have an organization like theirs.

“There are a lot of people that think that the problems we are trying to address don’t exist in the Central Coast, but the violence of policing and incarceration exists everywhere,” Bupara said.

Providing mutual aid to RAs

AACCS will be providing mutual aid to RAs at the action, who for the first three weeks of the year had limited access to filtered water, causing some of them to resort to drinking sink or shower water, according to a previous Mustang News article.

Mustang News spoke with two RAs working in yakʔitʸutʸu, who requested their names be kept anonymous, as speaking with the media is in violation of their work contracts.

The RAs said that the university has made them the primary enforcers of COVID-19 guidelines. The Cal Poly Police Department (CPPD) is another resource they have to help with rule enforcement, but RAs said they have been unhelpful in the past.

“Usually when we call CPPD they either escalate the situation or don’t necessarily help,” one RA said.

Another RA said they only call CPPD when they absolutely have to. Otherwise, RAs said they try to avoid contact with the police at all.

“Within the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community among our residents, there’s a lot of real trauma, caution and fear associated with policing,” one RA said. “At the end of the day, it’s my job to look after my residents, and I would rather do that job than get the police to do it for me.”

The #CopsOffCampus movement

At the action on Thursday, they said they plan to hold teach-ins on various subjects including the history of CPPD and the #CopsOffCampus movement. 

#CopsOffCampus is a hashtag that has been used to expose footage or information about instances of police brutality occurring on school campuses. The movement has inspired a statewide day of action, in which universities all over California will be holding actions similar to that of AACCS as an act of solidarity.

University Spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News that the university will not intrude on the actions of any involved students as it is their First Amendment right to assemble. 

“As a state institution and a public campus, Cal Poly does not infringe on the rights of community members and visitors to properly exercise their First Amendment rights,” Lazier wrote. “A peaceful and lawful demonstration will see no police action (other than the potential for officers to direct traffic, if needed).”

To help ensure that safety services are conducted and delivered professionally and safely as well as with dignity, respect and compassion, CPPD is committed to safe policing practices and comprehensive and ongoing training, according to Lazier. 

“The state of California requires many training requirements for all law enforcement officers, and CPPD officers are compliant with all required trainings,” he wrote. “In addition, Chief of Police George Hughes requires further professional development above and beyond state mandates, in areas such as implicit bias, anti-bias policing and incident de-escalation.”

Lazier wrote that Cal Poly has no plans to reduce funding to its police department.

As part of their mutual aid distribution, AACCS will also be providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to the RAs and students. The university provided each RA with one reusable mask, as well as a gator style mask and a face shield. The RAs said this is not enough.

The RAs said they have asked for additional PPE in the form of gloves and boxes of disposable masks to hand out to residents who have forgotten or do not have their mask. They complained about this early on, but they have not seen any action indicating that housing is trying to fix the issue, RAs said.

The RAs said that AACCS showing support for them through mutual aid is a “breath of fresh air.” They added that while the aid may not be necessary for everyone, it is definitely appreciated.

“It shows there are people who actually want to help us practically, because we aren’t really getting much practical help from the university,” one RA said.

Another RA agreed that they need more help from the university.

“RAs in the past have had a lot of issues with food insecurity because of issues we’ve had with our dining plans, so to see people proactively get ahead of those issues for RAs and students makes me really appreciative,” the RA said. “It was a really big thing last year — and a really scary thing.”

AACCS released their list of demands for the San Luis Obispo City Council and the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, and they said they will be going over those at the action as well. 

They demand that both the San Luis Obispo Police Department and San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s budgets and force sizes will be reduced by 33 percent by the next fiscal year. AACCS also demand free transportation for everyone in San Luis Obispo County. Their full list of demands can be found on their website.

The action will be socially distanced and masks will be required.

“We’re trusting that the people who come to [the action] are coming, because they believe in the same things we do and because they want to see a better future,” Bupara said. “They will be conscious of the fact that this pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on Black, Brown and Indigenous folks.”

Bupara said that anyone who refuses to wear a mask or social distance will be asked to leave.

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