South Hadley, MA – A group of Mount Holyoke College students announced plans to protest and disrupt the Western Massachusetts Police Academy graduation on Friday.
When the day of the graduation came, protesters had a sign waiting for them which said, “F–k Cops,” according to Turtleboy Sports.
It’s believed that none of the protesters actually showed up in person after their plans were exposed by Turtleboy.
School administrators first notified students that as many as 500 guests would be attending the ceremony, which took place in the Mount Holyoke Chapin Auditorium, The Daily Wire reported.
“This notification is being made to make you aware of the many police officers and police vehicles you may see here on Thursday morning, April 11th for rehearsal, and again on Friday, April 12th for graduation,” the university explained.
“There is no need to be alarmed. In the spirit of collaboration with our neighboring towns in Western Massachusetts we look forward to welcoming the 40 new officers to the Pioneer Valley,” school administrators added.
In the wake of the announcement, a group of students began distributing flyers around campus, warning people that the university’s administrators were “welcoming a large number of armed individuals from a known paramilitary organization with a documented history of white supremacist and patriarchal violence” to the campus.
The flyer specified that the group they were describing was “THE POLICE,” who would be “moving freely around” the school grounds.
According to the students, the officers’ presence would make the “campus especially unsafe(er) for Black women, women of color, Black queer and trans folks, queer and trans folks of color, non-Black/POC queer & trans folks, undocumented folks, and disabled folks.”
“ATTENTION…THIS IS REASON TO BE ALARMED!” the flyer read.
In addition to plastering the school with their flyers, the students also formulated a plan to disrupt and protest the law enforcement academy graduation ceremony on a since-deleted Facebook page, “Mount Holyoke Memes for Bra Burning Teens,” The Daily Wire reported.
“FYI: There is going to be a police academy graduation on campus (???) this Friday,” one person posted on the page. “Lots and lots of cops…I suggest we f–k some s–t up.”
Some suggested that they hold a sit-in protest, and others advocated blasting anti-police music from nearby buildings.
One student asserted that police are no different than Nazis.
“I’m sure you wouldn’t defend generalizing German people in the 1940s who joined the Nazi army by saying ‘they wanted to do good and protect their countries’ so save it,” the student wrote.
“Cops are awful people,” another student declared. “F–k every cop…Cops are wife and children beaters. F–k them all.”
Students also attempted to drum up more dissent by circulating a draft of an email they said they planned to send to university administrators, and encouraged their fellow students to do the same.
“The administration’s decision to host this event, and the communication around it, shows a blatant lack of concern for the safety and well-being of people of color, women, queer and trans folks on our campus and in our community – particularly those that are black, undocumented, and/or disabled,” the email read.
“The administration’s decision to welcome the Western Massachusetts Police Academy is a violation of and threat to the safety of our campus, and the surrounding communities,” the student added.
The email also berated the university for hiring Mount Holyoke College Campus Police Chief Daniel Hect.
Chief Hect, a former U.S. Air Force Security Services master sergeant with over 30 years of law enforcement experience, was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday night, after students blasted him for social media posts he had “liked” prior to being hired.
One such tweet wished followers a Merry Christmas.
Chief Hect had also “liked” two tweets made by the NRA, as well as several posts President Trump made regarding the government shutdown and the U.S.-Mexico border wall, The Daily Wire reported.
“If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” read another tweet the police chief “liked.”
Students accused Chief Hect of being a racist, and claimed he had “publicly [displayed] his support for hateful regimes and organizations,” according to The Daily Wire.
I’m not always super trusting of police in general,” student Rachel Wood told the Mount Holyoke News. “But [I’m] especially [wary of] someone I’d heard might be a Trump supporter.”
Mount Holyoke College President Sonya Stephens announced Chief Hect’s suspension on Wednesday.
“Over the past few weeks, members of our community have expressed concerns about the ability of Chief Daniel Hect to develop the level of trust required to engage in community policing,” Stephens said in an email to the university community.
“We are working closely with Smith College on this issue, and I will continue to keep our campus community informed,” she added.
Stephens released another statement after she received the students’ most recent email regarding their opposition to the police academy graduation being held on the Mount Holyoke campus, The Daily Wire reported.
Stephens said that she understood the various reasons behind community members’ concerns about the graduation, and noted that the administration “wholeheartedly support[s]…both freedom of speech and peaceful protest.”
Despite the complaints, administrators determined that hosting the ceremony was an opportunity “for building partnership and mutual understanding,” Stephens said.
“Like every college campus, Mount Holyoke depends on a broad array of first responders to provide service and support to the College,” she explained. “The police academy is a resource for the training of our own officers…This event is first and foremost a celebration of the cadets’ hard work— it is a graduation ceremony.”