Abolish TUPD erects art installation at future substation site

Rohan Goswami, News Editor

In the early hours of Nov. 2, activists with the Abolish TUPD organizing group erected a temporary art installation they titled “Graveyard of Possibilities.” 

A photograph taken shortly after installation of the art piece. (Abolish TUPD)

By the next morning, Abolish TUPD stated that the installation had been removed. Deputy Chief Jarrod Sullivan was not available for comment on the matter.

Abolish TUPD describes themselves as a “student-led, non-recognized student organization, working to end Tulane University’s role in policing and imprisonment.” The installation was intended to bring awareness to the future substation site and to protest the use of university funds for erection of the substation. 

The erection of the installation, following Halloween weekend, was intended to demonstrate that “there is nothing scarier than the thought of continuing to waste resources on policing in the name of safety, when we know that policing doesn’t keep us safe.”

Over Halloween weekend, TUPD responded to nearly 50 incidents near the Uptown campus alone, including two incidents of suicidal ideation and a car accident. In 2020, the majority of incidents that TUPD responded to resulted in referral for disciplinary action, rather than arrest.

Nonetheless, in that same press statement Abolish TUPD questioned the need for a substation on Broadway Street. Abolish TUPD claimed the cost of the new station would be over $2 million, and stated that they believed “these millions of dollars of funding could be better allocated towards other non-police services geared towards community safety.”

Tulane disputed the cost cited by Abolish TUPD, stating only that it would be “under $2 million.”

Mike Strecker, assistant vice president for communications, added that “funding for capital projects such [as] the substation comes largely from the sale of bonds or through contributions from donors for the specific purpose of constructing a particular building and thus cannot be diverted elsewhere.”

Abolish TUPD was established in the summer of 2020, when unrest was sweeping the nation over the murder of George Floyd and endemic police brutality.

The installation was inspired by the many possibilities for the space and the funding that were unrealized. Specifically, Abolish TUPD pointed to the demands of Tulane’s Black Student Union, writing in part that the funds could have been used for “reparations for Black students and for descendants of enslaved people connected to the university, hiring of more BIPOC faculty and administrators, wage increases for Sodexo workers, a commuter lounge for local students, and dedicated QTBIPOC housing.”

TUPD was not able to make senior leadership available for comment before publication.