(by Edgar Linares, WCCO) – School officials at the University of Minnesota are working with black student and facility organizations after they wrote a letter to the school’s president about the racial descriptions given in crime alerts.
The letter, sent on Dec. 6, 2013, was issued by members of the African American and African Studies, Black Faculty and Staff Association, Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, Black Men’s Forum, Black Student Union and Huntley House for African American Males.
It was directed to University President Eric Kaler and Pamela Wheelock, the vice president of University Services.
Students and staff mailed the letter more than a month after the campus went on lockdown because of an attempted robbery at Anderson Hall on Nov. 11, 2013. University of Minnesota Police wrongfully identified a student as the suspect.
On Tuesday, school officials reported there have been 25 robberies in and around the University, an increase of 27 percent over the last few years.
The organizations wrote that while campus safety is crucial, the profiling can be devastating for black male students.
“[We] unanimously agree that campus safety should be of the UMPD’s utmost importance; however, efforts to reduce crime should never be at the expense of our Black men, or any specific group of people likely to be targeted. In addition to causing Black men to feel unsafe and distrusted, racial profiling is proven to inflict negative psychological effects on its victims.”
At Wednesday’s forum, Ian Taylor Jr., president of the Black Men’s Forum, said members of his organization feel threatened when the use of a racial description is given in the crime alerts.
“The repeated black, black, black suspect,” Taylor said. “And what that does it really discomforts the mental and physical comfort for students on campus because they feel like suspicions begin to increase.”
The letter then gave 12 recommendations to UMPD Chief Gregory Hestness on how to improve their response.
The recommendations include requiring officers to attend diversity training, and attach a link on crime alerts to the U’s no-tolerance policy on racial profiling. Continue reading...