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Protesters disrupt Hopkins police hearing

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Protesters in Maryland disrupted a public hearing on a proposed Johns Hopkins police academy Thursday night, prompting officials to move the event to an online-only format.

Protesters in Maryland disrupted a public hearing on a proposed Johns Hopkins police academy Thursday night, prompting officials to move the event to an online-only format.

Students took the stage to protest against the creation of a private armed police force at the university, news outlets reported.

The meeting was the first in a series designed to get community feedback on a draft memorandum of understanding between the university and Baltimore police. The document details how the university will create a force to patrol campuses in Homewood, Peabody and East Baltimore. The force’s jurisdiction will include garages, sidewalks and streets within those boundaries.

Hopkins, a prestigious private research institution that is home to a top medical school, says the force is needed in a city with high rates of violent crime. It said the force would be part of a comprehensive approach to tackling crime on campus.

Critics, including students, faculty and the public, questioned how the police would be held accountable.

Branville Bard, the university’s vice president for public safety, said he believes there can be a system that addresses the root causes of crime but also provides constitutional policing when crime does occur.

Erica Bridgford, executive director of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, who was brought in to help moderate the talks, said she was frustrated that the protesters’ actions meant that the voices of other participants would not be heard, in part because they did not have enough technological resources to participation in the Internet town hall.

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