On February 4th, 2022, Purdue University Police officer Jon Selke violently tackled Adonis Tuggle and pressed his forearm on Tuggle’s neck. Selke’s racist and violent mistreatment of Tuggle is yet another disturbing reminder that police don’t keep our community safe. In this case, as in many others, calling the police resulted in unnecessary violence and failed to productively address the situation.
As part of the press release announcing the resolution of the case, Purdue President Mitch Daniels said:
“We’re proud of the fact that PUPD has no record of this type of incident occurring in the past. It was an aberration and must remain so. “Zero” is the only acceptable number of such incidents at Purdue. We’ve directed several definitive steps to reduce the chance that anything of this kind ever occurs in the future.”
Daniels’ absurd claim that the PUPD has no recorded cases of police brutality is insulting and implausible. In addition to the high-profile case of Lafayette resident Richard Bailey, there are many other instances of racist police brutality from the Lafayette Police, West Lafayette Police, and PUPD that have gone unreported or unnoticed but still matter. Additionally, the Purdue administration’s refusal to meaningfully engage with the demands of student organizations, such as the Black Student Union, indicates their lack of commitment to the safety of the campus community.
We believe that “zero” is the only acceptable number of cases of police brutality. The only way to seriously pursue this goal — in the near term — is to significantly reduce the size and role of the police in our community and instead fund social services that will make the police increasingly unnecessary. The Purdue and Lafayette community must begin investing in public social services that can productively respond to issues like mental health emergencies, drug overdoses, homelessness, domestic violence, and sexual assult. Armed police are not qualified to address these issues, and it is unproductive and harmful to charge them with these tasks. We encourage people to learn more about alternatives to police and incarceration, and to join the Democratic Socialists of America in our fight to establish abolitionist alternatives.
In the long term, we believe that police and prisons are not a productive way to address the real harm that humans will always do to each other. Police and prisons disproportionately surveil and punish Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, and are ineffective at preventing violence and harm from occurring. After decades of increased policing and mass incarceration, it’s clear that the prison-industrial complex will never deliver real justice, accountability, or transformation.