QBACC to ban police involvement at future events

New policy follows Black Lives Matter, earlier criticism of rallies

QBACC is pursuing alternative methods of security for events.

Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) announced an impending policy change on June 5 banning police presence at the club’s future events. 

According to QBACC Co-Chair Nick Lorraway, ArtSci ’21, the decision was essential for influencing positive change on campus. 

READ MORE: Hundreds gather for Black Lives Matter vigil in Skeleton Park

Lorraway said QBACC had been criticized for having a police presence at their previous rallies. He explained there was one police liaison officer in a car at these events, which is a standard procedure in Kingston and at Queen’s.

“We knew there [were] going to be a lot of people coming [to the rally] and were terrified of instigators of violence,” Lorraway told The Journal. “The reality is that the decision to have a peaceful rally has very little to do with the planning itself. Having police there meant that, if something bad happened, the police would throw [out] those instigating violence.”

He also mentioned QBACC would be liable for failing to adequately provide security at large-scale events.

“Now, we’re going to find other ways to provide reliable security, so people can be kept safe—while being conscious of the fact that people of colour do not feel safe around the police,” Lorraway said. “We’re still ironing out the kinks in this policy and we haven't fully released it yet. There are also some other large-scale changes we want to lobby to the University and the Kingston police.”

In support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, Lorraway said QBACC donated $250 to a collection of bail funds and legal teams in the United States and $250 to the GoFundMe for Regis Korchinski-Paquet. These donations followed the call to action from the Queen’s Black Academic Society asking for student groups to match a donation of $100 to an organization that supports Black lives. 

The QBACC team has also been going to BLM rallies and educating themselves about the movement, according to Lorroway.

To help inform their advocacy, QBACC is conducting a survey to gather more information about student experiences with Kingston Police. 

“We knew there was also going to be an aspect of lobbying to the University, so we decided to put out a survey to talk to people and [to] understand their experiences,” Lorroway said, adding the survey has been available for “quite some time” since it was posted to the Facebook group Overheard at Queen’s.

READ MORE: Queen’s Student Diversity Project leads discussion on anti-racism & allyship

“There’s one [experience] that stuck out to me about this guy who was getting harassed for jaywalking to the ARC during [Orientation] week. He was taken to the station and questioned for four hours because of that,” Lorraway explained. “Anyone who goes to Queen’s knows that’s an outrageous charge, since most students cross that way regularly.”

Lorraway said QBACC will also ensure all internal members complete diversity and advocacy training, along with sensitivity awareness training, as part of onboarding for the upcoming year. 

“We’ve made a very large action plan. We hope other clubs are doing similar initiatives,” Lorroway said. “We hope this is not a singular conversation QBACC has had with itself and looking at ourselves."

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