This Student Body President Helped Lead The Charge In Univ. Of Minnesota Limiting Its Contract With The Minneapolis Police Department
The school's president said some security arrangements with the city's police department would cease.
Following the release of a letter written a Black student leader, University Of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced that the school would be ending some of its contracts with the Minneapolis Police Department after the tragic death of George Floyd, according to CBS Minnesota.
Floyd was killed on Monday after officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes after he had been arrested and handcuffed, as Blavity previously reported.
Gabel told the local news outlet on Wednesday the school would no longer hire Minneapolis Police Department officers for large events like concerts, graduations and football games. She said they will no longer use the police force for "specialized services" like K-9 explosive detection units prior to events.
“We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them. We will limit our collaboration with the MPD to joint patrols and investigations that directly enhance the safety of our community or that allow us to investigate and apprehend those who put our students, faculty, and staff at risk. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are with the loved ones and friends of George Floyd,” Gabel said.
She added that “our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department officers against George Floyd leading to his tragic death.”
"As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken. I do not have the words to fully express my pain and anger and I know that many in our community share those feelings, but also fear for their own safety. This will not stand,” Gabel said in a letter to students and faculty, according to the Huffington Post.
Students at the school took credit for pushing Gabel into the decision, highlighting the powerful and moving letter written by Student Body President Jael Kerandi on Tuesday and signed by thousands of students, teachers and Minnesota residents.
Never underestimate the power of your voice. This is for the mothers of George Floyd, Jamarr Clark, Philando Castile, and many others. Thank you to the 2,000+ signatories listed below, this couldn't have been done without you. The fight is not over, the marathon continues. pic.twitter.com/RaraSnyzPX— UMN Student Body President (@UMN_SBP) May 27, 2020
"We clearly and without hesitation DEMAND that the University of Minnesota Police Department ceases any partnerships with the Minneapolis Police Department immediately. This is inclusive of any previous contracts, events, security operations, and any additional relations that were inclusive of the Minneapolis Police Department, barring any reporting structures," Kerandi wrote in the letter.
"As a land-grant institution, statements professing appreciation of diversity and inclusion are empty and worthless if they are not backed up by action. A man was murdered. It is our job as an institution to exert whatever pressure we can to keep our students safe and demand justice in our city and state. We expect a reply to this concern within 24 hours of receipt," she continued.
On January 21st 2020, Jael Kerandi took office as the FIRST African-American student body president at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.#HappyBlackHistoryMonth #Day29 pic.twitter.com/8mN366ahaL— UMN Student Body President (@UMN_SBP) March 1, 2020
In the letter, she details what happened to Floyd and explains how Black people have been killed by the Minneapolis Police Department at 13.2 times the rate of white people, calling Floyd's death "disgusting" and "unacceptable."
She lists multiple events involving violence enacted by police against Black students at the university and Black city residents, including Tycel Nelson and Jamar Clark.
"We will not forget the murder of George Floyd who was suffocated to death by Officers on May 25th 2020 amidst a global pandemic. We will never forget George Floyd, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, and the countless lives that have been lost senselessly and needlessly at the murderous hands of police brutality," Kerandi said. "We have lost interest in discussion, community conversations, and 'donut hours.' We no longer wish to have a meeting or come to an agreement, there is no middle ground."
"This is not a problem of some other place or some other time. This is happening right here in Minneapolis. We no longer tolerate the ineffective, inconsistent 'bias training' that rarely serves as more than a fig leaf. We have no purview or jurisdiction over the operations of the Minneapolis Police Department except as citizens of Minneapolis. However, as student leaders, we do have a stake in the operations of the University of Minnesota Police Department," she added.
Protests have raged since a video of Floyd's gruesome death racked up millions of views online. The four police officers involved in the 46-year-old's death have been fired and were officially identified on Wednesday.
In addition to Chauvin, officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng were involved in the encounter that led to Floyd's death. Both Chauvin and Thao have lengthy pasts involving misconduct, and Chauvin was involved in two other shootings, as reported by Daily Mail.
The situation has garnered national attention, and the FBI is now looking into the case. President Donald Trump was briefed on Floyd's death and the status of the federal investigation by Attorney General William Barr on Thursday, CNBC reported.
“The federal investigation will determine whether the actions by the involved former Minneapolis Police Department officers violated federal law. It is a violation of federal law for an individual acting under color of law to willfully deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States,” the Justice Department and the FBI said in a joint statement.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump has personally watched the video of Floyd's death, and she told reporters on Thursday that it was "egregious, appalling and tragic."