In response to an email sent out by Gonzaga University Housing and Residence Life regarding the stationing of Bomb Squad and SWAT team trucks in the Kennedy Apartments parking lot Monday night, President Thayne McCulloh addressed students and GU's Black students in particular on Twitter Tuesday morning.
In the email, GU Housing and Residence Life said that the police presence in the parking lot was in anticipation of an event downtown later that night. The event was not specified.
"I want first to apologize, to our students and particularly our Black students, for the presence of police on campus at Kennedy last night and the lack of sufficient context and information about the purpose of their presence," McCulloh said via Twitter.
Earlier yesterday, the Spokane Police Department publicly announced concern that groups unaffiliated with the protest were targeting downtown Spokane for further destruction, McCulloh said via Twitter. A nighttime curfew was put in place for part of downtown and the Washington National Guard was brought in.
"My understanding is the Spokane Police Department contacted GU Campus Security and Public Safety for permission to have a presence at Kennedy both because of its proximity to the downtown-serving arterials that are nearby, and out of specific desire to afford protection to GU’s people and property in the event of violence," McCulloh said via Twitter.
In a campus-wide email delivered this morning, McCulloh said though there is no indication that GU was a specific target, the potential for the threat of violence to move north and onto campus was also a factor in this request.
It was not considered how the request for police presence could be a perceived threat and concern for students.
"We should have been much clearer and more accurate in our communications to explain the situation and to try to allay any fears and concerns, particularly for students who are or may be feeling quite vulnerable given the current local and national environment," McCulloh said in the email.
The two unmarked trucks and one unmarked van at Kennedy were intended to only be used in the case of preventing threats or unrest caused by unaffiliated organized groups and were not in place to disrupt peaceful protest.
"The Spokane Police Department withdrew its vehicles from Kennedy before midnight Monday night, and in response to our request have agreed not to stage them on campus," he said in the email.
In light of nationwide protests and racial injustice, McCulloh said he and Deena González, provost and senior vice president, have asked their colleagues in Student Development to join them in creating opportunities for the GU community to process and converse with each other regarding these current events.
"I have asked Dr. Raymond Reyes, Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, to collaborate with GSBA President Fese Elango and other student, faculty and staff leaders to coordinate these activities designed to continue this important process," McCulloh said in the email.
Additional information will be provided as the opportunity for these is created, he said.