To: Members of the University Community
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost 
Subject: Statement Regarding UCPD Protests
Date: September 1, 2020
I am writing with an update on the protest against the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) that started this weekend and is continuing outside my home.
As provost, I wholeheartedly support the right of members of our community to express their opinions and advocate for change. Systemic racism and police violence are troubling to me personally and in my role as a university leader, and this is an important conversation for the University community to be having.
I have offered to meet with the protesters. In fact, since their occupation of the UCPD headquarters on June 11, we have communicated a standing invitation for representatives of the group to meet with me. We reiterated that offer again this week. However, they have refused, insisting that even the initial meeting must be conducted in a public forum and focus on how to implement their demand to defund and disband the UCPD. They have rejected a constructive dialogue about their concerns and the UCPD.
Unfortunately, the actions that are currently taking place on my doorstep go beyond any civil bounds. In addition to engaging in unlawful residential picketing for three days, protestors have harassed and directed personal attacks and vulgar language at my family members and me, verbally and in writing, and blocked traffic for community members on my block. They have spray painted offensive messages in both English and Chinese on my street and outside my home.
As provost and a faculty member, civil discourse about important societal issues is a right that I am proud the University protects. Vandalism and personal attacks against an individual are not consistent with these values.
The protesters have stated their opposition to the existence of the UCPD. While we are committed to working constructively on public safety, I want to be clear that the University has no intention of disbanding the UCPD. The UCPD provides a vital service in helping to keep safe and support our campus and surrounding communities – a mission that the University has undertaken with the encouragement of community members and leaders and in accordance with Chicago City Ordinance. That role will continue.
As President Zimmer and I noted in an August 12 message to members of the University community, we are committed to examining our public safety function and ways in which community services provided by the University, including security and policing, can be improved. Through the earlier mentioned process, we will consider specific recommendations for UCPD and other public safety measures, and how the University can support public safety through its research, education, services, and programs. We plan to share the outcome of these discussions with the University community in a town hall designed to help develop additional actions in areas of concern.
I look forward to engaging in a civil and respectful discussion on these matters.
Academic values