Whether it’s a student march or crowds gathered in response to a nationally known and provocative guest speaker, IUPD officers follow a playbook designed to balance the safety of all involved with their First Amendment rights.
Regardless of the cause, IUPD officers cannot "take sides" in their efforts to ensure public safety and freedom of expression. Officers also are charged with keeping disruptions to university business (classes, for example) to a minimum.
The following are prohibited:
- Violence. Injuring, endangering or threatening people. This includes shoving, “fighting words” and intimidating behavior directed at an individual, such as standing nose to nose with someone while yelling or directing racial slurs at individuals as they pass.
- Damaging property. This includes grabbing signs belonging to others.
- Camping. Camping and setting up temporary structures is prohibited on all campuses.
- Significantly disrupting university operations and/or events occurring on campus. Protesters may enter university buildings in many instances but not private offices, labs, studios or other areas not open to the general public — unless invited by someone who manages the space. When inside university buildings, protesters should not linger and must leave if asked by someone who manages the building. They should keep the noise down and avoid blocking normal pedestrian traffic. For some events, access to the venue may be restricted.
- Weapons. Guns, whether concealed or carried openly, knives and other weapons are prohibited on all IU campuses.
- Torches, open flames, fireworks. Torches, candles, fireworks, sky lanterns with open flames and other open fires are prohibited inside buildings and outside.
What can you expect from IUPD?
- Safety. Officers will make every effort to keep demonstrators and counter-demonstrators safe, even if you’re protesting police activity. Police can have a greater impact if included in the planning for your march or protest (contact your campus police division).
- Off-campus response? If the protest moves off-campus or occurs near campus, IUPD officers will only respond if invited by the responding police agency and then they will respond as a group under the command of an IUPD supervisor and IUPD practices/procedures.
- Restraint, self-discipline
andneutrality. IUPD officers are trained to act professionally, to remain neutral and to avoid being provoked.
- Step back. If you’re videotaping a police-civilian interaction, you may be asked to step back for safety purposes.
- Reluctant use of force. Police will use pepper spray, a baton or other forms of force only when the physical safety of a person or police officer is immediately threatened. Such decisions should not be made by the individual officer if time permits but through the chain of command.
Consequences – even if provoked
The U.S. Constitution and university codes protect individuals’ freedom of expression but there still can be consequences. For example, if a demonstrator or counter-demonstrator provokes you into pushing him, police may arrest you for battery. If demonstrators refuse to leave an office or building, they could be charged with trespass or banned from that specific building or the campus for a period of time.
What's the Demonstration Response and Safety Team at IU Bloomington?
Members of the DRST, launched in the summer of 2017, are student affairs professionals who work at demonstrations, rallies, protests, and other campus events on behalf of the Vice Provost
Their role is to be an onsite resource regarding students’ rights to free expression and about other people’s rights to free expression. Team members, who wear nametags and try to be visible, also answer questions from faculty, staff, and the general public pertaining to free speech on and around campus or by campus groups. Lastly, they can advise students and student groups on issues related to safety during their events.
The IUPD’s approach to policing demonstrations and protests is dictated by a formal IUPD “General Order” that requires police officers on all campuses to follow the same guidance. The department has a number of general orders as it moves to implement more consistent policing practices across all the campuses. These general orders include those addressing unbiased policing and response to resistance. IU Public Safety staff began a comprehensive review in 2017 of its response to resistance policy, equipment and training. It also reviews its general orders and updates as necessary. The information in this post may be revised as a result of this work.
IU Public Safety is part of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, which falls under the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs and the Office of the Vice President for IT and CIO.