Seven people were arrested Wednesday morning at Johns Hopkins University as Baltimore police reopened an administrative building where the doors had been chained shut for a week in a protest over issues including the creation of a separate campus police force.
Baltimore police and Hopkins officials said trespassers who had seized control of Garland Hall were offered “full amnesty” in an operation that started before 5 a.m. They were given chances to leave the building without being charged, police said, but some chose not to leave. Five people were arrested for alleged trespassing, and two more were arrested for allegedly blocking traffic as police vehicles sought to leave the scene.
Police said no one was injured in the incident.
A Hopkins official said some of those arrested appeared to be students.
A Facebook group called JHU Sit-In denounced the police action and praised “our brave comrades who were arrested.”
The group said: “Over 80 cops were deployed to arrest 7 people. This is a terrible foreshadowing of what Johns Hopkins will do when granted a full armed police force.”
Tensions have been simmering for weeks at Hopkins and in surrounding communities over plans to create a separate campus police force. The Democratic-controlled state legislature approved a bill allowing the move, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed it. The launch of the Hopkins force, with up to 100 officers, will be a multiyear process.
Campus police forces are fairly common at colleges and universities across the country. Hopkins officials said the move was needed to help meet the university’s security needs at multiple campuses in a city with significant public safety issues.
Critics say a private force of armed officers under the control of Hopkins could harm relations between the university and Baltimore neighborhoods and produce a climate of fear and intimidation.
Protesters began a sit-in at Garland Hall on April 3, demanding a stop to plans for the Hopkins force and the cancellation of contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that provide the agency with training in emergency medical services and leadership education. The building houses the offices of Ronald J. Daniels, the university president, and core administrative units such as the financial aid and registrar’s offices.
On May 1, the university said it was forced to evacuate its personnel from Garland as protesters chained shut the exterior doors and covered interior security cameras.
“The university has gone to extraordinary lengths to accommodate the protest in Garland Hall since it started more than a month ago and has attempted to engage with students to find a resolution following forcible occupation of the building last week,” Hopkins said in a statement. “We are unshakable in our support of freedom of expression, which lies at the core of academic life. We had hoped to find a constructive means to resolve this increasingly dangerous situation, and we are disappointed that the decisions of the protesters necessitated a law enforcement response.”