The University of Minnesota has cut ties with the city’s police department in reaction to the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
In a statement released Wednesday just two days after the death of George Floyd, University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel announced the school will no longer use the Minneapolis Police Department for large events such as football games, concerts and ceremonies.
“Our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers against George Floyd leading to his tragic death,” Gabel said in her letter addressed to students, faculty and staff. “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 went on to add that the Gophers will also cease the use of the police department’s specialized services, such as K-9 explosive detection units.
Floyd, 46, died in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25. His death has been the subject of protests in the city this week after video taken from a bystander showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling directly on Floyd’s neck. The officer refused to relent after Floyd was heard complaining about not being able to breathe, and he died shortly thereafter.
The four officers involved in his death were fired on Tuesday, and the mayor is seeking criminal charges.
A Response to the Murder of George Floyd – Signatories.
May 26th 2020
Dear Chair Powell, President Gabel, Vice President Berthelsen, Chief Clark, and Vice President Goh,
This morning we woke up to a graphic video that depicted the violent murder of an unarmed, restrained Black man named George Floyd by Minneapolis police Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao. Chauvin knelt on the neck of Floyd and pressed him into the hot asphalt, forcing Floyd to inhale the fumes from an SUV owned by the Minneapolis Police Department while Thao stood guard and watched. Chauvin continued to apply pressure even as George lay motionless and pleaded in pain saying “Please, please I can’t breathe.” George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis Police Department. Full stop. Regardless of the reason for his arrest, his death cannot be justified, and those who attempt to do so are part of the problem. Following his arrest, the Minneapolis Police Department released a false statement, claiming that he died due to ‘medical incident.’ George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was murdered and he did not deserve to die.
The Minneapolis Police Department has repeatedly demonstrated with their actions that Black bodies are expendable to them. This is a norm that we have been desensitized to due to its frequency. Black people have been killed by the Minneapolis Police Department at 13.2x the rate of white people. It is disgusting and it is unacceptable. A part of the Twin Cities campus is embedded within the confines of Minneapolis and students often are under the jurisdiction of the Minneapolis Police Department, a dubious status for any person of color. MPD has continually shown disregard for the welfare and rights of people of color on our campus. This disregard is especially blatant in interactions that include but are not limited to, the discrimination and racism that was experienced by students during Somali Night in 2018, and generally, the way students of color are treated with mistrust and suspicion while on or around campus.
We did not forget the events of July 1967, where police violently threw Black community members to the ground after attempting to break up a fight downtown, where Black people were denied the right to ride the bus back to North Minneapolis, and where four white boys beat a Black boy while police watched. We will not forget the events of 1989, where a botched SWAT raid which resulted in the deaths of Black Elders Lillian Weiss and Lloyd Smalley and the brutal arrest of Black youth at Embassy Suites downtown.” We will not forget the murder in 1990 of Tycel Nelson, who was killed by Officer Daniel May who was then awarded for this fatality. We will not forget the murder of Courtney Williams who was shot by Minneapolis police in 2004. We will not forget the murder of unarmed Jamar Clark in 2015, who was killed when officers responded to a 911 call in North Minneapolis. And 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. May you Rest in POWER.
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. The police are murdering Black men with no meaningful repercussions. 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. Therefore 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. 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.
With deep loss, disgust, and exhaustion,
A Black woman.
The Undergraduate Student Body President