Northwestern “disturbed” by NIPAS threats against student protesters


Daily file photo by Binah Schatsky

Armed NIPAS officers at an NU Community Not Cops protest. Human Services Committee members discussed the city’s relationship with NIPAS in a Monday meeting.

Isabelle Sarraf, Campus Editor

Northwestern released an official statement saying it was “disturbed” by threats of violence toward student protesters by police officers from the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System.

The threats — emails and texts by NIPAS officers, made public via Freedom of Information Act requests — included discussions of the use of chemical munitions against protesters on Halloween. Several texts mentioned pava powder, a synthetic riot control agent fired from pepperball weapons.

“My trigger finger was jittering,” one text read. “As much as a shattered kneecap woulda been nice alas I was not ten feet away. Pepper ball did just fine.”

NIPAS officers work independently from the University and are unaffiliated with University Police. Typically called in by the city of Evanston or Evanston Police Department, the NIPAS Mobile Field Force was present at several NU Community Not Cops protests this fall.

The University thanked the students who had brought the threats to light, emphasizing the paramount of their safety. While NIPAS officers called student protesters led by NU Community Not Cops a “violent hate group,” the University defended those students as exercising freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“We offer unwavering support for members of our community who participate in peaceful protests to effect change — including students who have been advocating for changes to public safety approaches on our campus and beyond,” the University wrote.

These sentiments differed from University President Morton Schapiro’s Oct. 19 email, where he expressed support for “vigorous debate and the free expression of ideas” but condemned the “overstepping” of student protesters who “menaced” members of the NU and Evanston communities.

The Freedom of Information Act mentioned above was obtained by Alex Harrison and Zach Watson.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabellesarraf

Related Stories:

Defining Safe: Defining the Outside Agitator

Students pepper-sprayed, one arrested during Halloween action to abolish NUPD

NUCNC protests police outside football season opener, stands with Black athletes