The University of Minnesota has announced that it will limit its collaboration with the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died earlier this week after being pinned to the ground by an officer who kneeled on his neck.
“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,” Joan Gabel, the university’s president, said in a letter to students, faculty and staff this week.
“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,” she wrote.
In the letter, Gabel announced that she directed the university’s senior vice president, Brian Burnett, to “no longer contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for additional law enforcement support needed for large events, such as football games, concerts and ceremonies.”
She also said she instructed the university’s chief of police, Matt Clark, to no longer use the local police department when “specialized services are needed for university events, such as K-9 Explosive detection units.”
“We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them,” she wrote. “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.”
“I write to you to express our overwhelming sadness, and our demands for accountability and justice,” she continued. “Our campuses and facilities are a part of the communities in which they reside. University students, staff, and faculty are day-to-day participants in the life of every community in this state, and we must act when our neighbors are harmed and in pain.”
Floyd, 46, died at a hospital earlier this week shortly after being placed into custody of the local police department. Prior to his death, Floyd was seen on video being pinned down on a street by a local officer who pushed his knee onto his neck. As he was held down, Floyd could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Four responding officers who were involved in Floyd’s arrest have since been fired. However, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) is calling for the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck to be charged following his death.
"Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?" Frey said Wednesday. "If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now."