Jiang, a Yale graduate student, was killed on Feb. 6 on Lawrence Street between Nicoll Street and Nash Street. New Haven Police have named 29-year-old Qinxuan Pan — an MIT researcher who knew Jiang’s fiancee — as a person of interest in the case. Pan was not residing in New Haven at the time of the murder.
Most students interviewed by the News said that the incident does not warrant an increase in Yale Police Department presence in New Haven — but some parents have said that the University needs to prioritize safety. Assistant Yale Police Department Chief Anthony Campbell ’95 DIV ’09 told the News last week that the YPD is not currently planning to expand its officer presence. Instead, Yale is considering expanding Yale Shuttle routes, providing to-door drop-offs and extending its hours of service.
“Public safety is a critical priority for Yale and we continue to work in partnership with the city of New Haven to protect our community,” Lauren Zucker, associate vice president and director of New Haven Affairs at Yale, wrote in an email to the News. “The New Haven police chief made it clear that there is no prevailing threat to the community related to the tragic murder of Kevin Jiang.”
In the closed Yale Parents and Families Facebook group, parents shared news of the incident, calling crime in New Haven “out of control” and trading stories about their children who had felt unsafe living off campus. The original thread sharing the news of Jiang’s death had over 60 comments from parents, many of whom concluded that the University needed to prioritize safety in response to the incident. The News reached out to six parents who commented their concerns on the thread, five did not respond to requests for comment and the sixth declined to comment.
Il’ia Karagulin GRD ’26, who lives in East Rock, told the News that an increase in policing or security in the neighborhood would not be the correct response to Jiang’s murder. Karagulin said that they have always felt “perfectly safe” living in East Rock and that the only violence they have witnessed in New Haven was an instance of what they deemed to be police brutality during an NHPD arrest.
Karagulin is an organizer with Concerned and Organized Graduate Students at Yale, a graduate student advocacy group that, among other causes, supports the abolition of the YPD. Karagulin said that in conversations within COGS and with fellow graduate students who live in East Rock, the majority of students have agreed that they do not feel unsafe in the neighborhood.
“I don’t think policing brings safety to East Rock or anywhere else in New Haven,” Karagulin said. “I think policing brings violence. And I think we need to expand our understanding of what public safety looks like outside of increased policing, or even policing at the level it is at right now.”
Jack Barker ’22 told the News that he believes that anti-police rhetoric has negatively affected policing.
“How can [the deaths] not make you a little more apprehensive, when the site of Kevin Jiang’s murder is a 15-minute walk from Pauli Murray?” Barker said.
Martine Cruz ’23 said that she has never felt unsafe in New Haven and avoids letting fear dictate her decisions.
“An increased police presence as a result of Kevin Jiang’s tragic death, as well as others, is not the answer; it will only lead to more police violence that disproportionately affects Black and Brown folks,” Saket Malhotra ’23, Lauren Lee ’23 and Bella Bolayon ’23, co-moderators of the Asian American Students Alliance, wrote in a statement to the News. The trio voiced support for alternative forms of public safety investment in New Haven and Black Students for Disarmament at Yale’s demands to dismantle and defund the YPD.
Natalie Troy ’22, who lives off campus in the East Rock neighborhood, observed that while the University’s response to Jiang’s death has been “overwhelming,” the similarly tragic deaths of New Haven community members rarely elicit the same response.
“It’s very sad and scary, no matter who dies, but it’s just tough for me to imagine how stepping up YPD presence will help,” she said.
As of Feb. 22, the city of New Haven has seen seven homicides in the first two months of 2021.
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