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Initiating change at UK; BLM group submits list of requests

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 21:33:20-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A group of students on the University of Kentucky campus are angling for some change, and the most significant might be cosmetic.

"It started with a petition to rename the Kirwan-Blanding complex after Breonna Taylor," said Khari Gardner, from his home in Baltimore, Md.

Taylor was shot and killed in March while Louisville police executed a no-knock search warrant.

Gardner is a business major who will be a senior when classes resume in the fall. His group "Movement for Black Lives at UK" has several changes its members are hoping to see made on campus in the coming months.

"Disarm (campus) police, removing military equipment from (campus) police arsenal, expanding funding and organizational support for diverse organizations on campus, and more funding for minority and women's scholarships," Gardner added.

Gardner said he's witnessed, and been a victim of racist actions on campus and doesn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable in their college setting.

"I'd hate for someone to have to transfer out of the college of their dreams (due to racism)," Gardner said.

Gardner acknowledged that disarming police would be difficult given the role they'd play if the campus ever experienced an active shooter. He just doesn't see the constant need for it while walking on campus or sitting in a lecture hall.

The University shared some good information as it relates to campus police training. Officers are required to undergo rigorous criminal justice training, which includes "unconscious bias training." As one department employee offered, "these guys are sharp- really good."

Gardner is pretty sharp too. With only one year to go before graduation, he knows he might not be around to see any, or all, of these changes take effect. But he's okay with that. He said success will come if even one person can benefit from the work the group is doing now.

"If another person of color, UK class of '25, or UK class of '26, feel safer than I did, or more welcome than I did," he said.

A detailed list of what the group is demanding can be found here.