On Wednesday night, while protests and clashes with Minneapolis Police Officers erupted on Lake Street, University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel issued an announcement to students and staff.
It said the university’s hearts were “broken” after seeing the inciting event behind the conflict: a video of a 46-year-old black man named George Floyd pressed under the knee of a police officer named Derek Chauvin. Floyd died in police custody on Monday.
“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,” Gabel wrote. “This will not stand.”
Gabel went on to say that the university would no longer contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for backup during large events like football games or concerts. The school would also no longer use the police department for “specialized services” needed at events, like bomb-sniffing dogs.
Further collaboration would be limited to “joint patrols and investigations” that “directly enhance” the community’s safety, or allow the university to “investigate and apprehend those who put our students, faculty, and staff at risk.”
The letter, in its entirety, was widely circulated on Twitter Wednesday night.
University of Minnesota just broke a bunch of ties with the Minneapolis Police Department pic.twitter.com/PBEkl9FErZ— Will Stancil (@whstancil) May 27, 2020
The Minneapolis Police Department did not respond to interview requests.
This comes after widespread advocacy and petitioning by the students themselves, led predominantly by students of color. Undergraduate Student Body President Jael Kerandi sent her own letter to the administration on Tuesday, signed by thousands of supporters, expressing “deep loss, disgust, and exhaustion,” and demanding the university police force cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department “immediately.”
“We have lost interest in discussion, community conversations, and ‘donut hours,’” she wrote. “We no longer wish to have a meeting or come to an agreement, there is no middle ground. The police are murdering black men with no meaningful repercussions… Statements professing appreciation of diversity and inclusion are empty and worthless if they are not backed up by action.”
She signed it, along with her name and title, “a black woman.” Full letter available here, courtesy of Kerandi herself.
There is no more discussion to be had, only action. There is no justification for the murder of George Floyd. Therefore we, without hesitation DEMAND that the UMPD ceases any partnerships with the MPD immediately. If you would like to sign on go to https://t.co/EcLWfVq6ps— UMN Student Body President (@UMN_SBP) May 27, 2020
After Gabel announced the intention to cut ties, Kerandi thanked the over 2,000 signatories who supported the measure and dedicated the action to “the mothers of George Floyd, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile,” and “many other” black men killed by police in the Twin Cities.
“The fight is not over,” she wrote. “The marathon continues.”