Black U of M students suspect racial profiling by campus police

Six African-American organizations at the University of Minnesota say a recent uptick in crime around campus has heightened concerns that police are racially profiling students and employees.

They say the inclusion of suspects’ race in university crime alerts has been problematic. Although the criminals apprehended have not been connected to the U — and have often come from other cities — employees and students say they find themselves under the gaze of police.

Especially troubling, one black leader said, was the release of a photo of a suspect in the attempted mid-November armed robbery of a student in Anderson Hall — a man police later said wasn’t involved.

“More and more students and employees have been stopped for absolutely no reason, and many of them have even shared that they were told, ‘You fit the description of somebody in a crime alert,'” said Black Faculty & Staff Association President Alysia Lajune. “And the crime alerts, as we all know, are extremely vague.”

A university spokesman says the campus police chief does not believe such profiling is occurring, but is committed to not letting it happen.

University President Eric Kaler says profiling is unacceptable.

“It’s a very legitimate concern, and it’s something that we’re not going to tolerate,” he said. “And to the degree that things have happened that have made the community uneasy, we’ll work to rectify those.”

Black campus leaders sent Kaler and Vice President of University Services Pam Wheelock a letter Dec. 6 (below) laying out their concerns.

In the letter, they said they had met with university Police Chief Greg Hestness, who agreed to add anti-profiling policy language to crime alerts and the department’s website.

According to the letter, they expressed concern that he wasn’t acting quickly enough, and wondered about his sincerity.

Kaler sent them a quick response (below). He wrote, “Our team is simply stretched,” but called on university personnel to carry out the group’s suggestions.

After reading that and speaking with Hestness, Lajune said, she feels the groups are being taken seriously.

She said the U has already met the group’s original requests regarding crime alerts and the police website.

She said she hopes the two sides can discuss solutions in the next few months.

  • Very Reasonable Citizen

    What good does it do if they give out a generic description of a suspect?, “black male, 20’s”

    • WhatALoadOfBS

      It just might save your life one day that’s what good it does makes people aware of behavior exhibited by a specific class/race of people.

      Generalizations save lives everyday without asking for anything in return.

  • Parent of UMn student

    When you discuss ‘two sides’ of the discussion – how about including the ‘side’ of the students who are crime victims in the discussion with student groups concerned about racial profiling. The campus and Mpls police depts are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Racial profiling is not an answer, but not searching for suspects is not an answer either. I would appreciate some constructive suggestions from the groups concerned about profiling.
    Perpetrators are smart. They apparently have found the ultimate ‘target rich environment’ where they can roam with impunity.

    • WhatALoadOfBS

      Go looking for the truth you wont like what you find.

    • cjkcjk

      The closer the police operate to the truth and common sense, the more outraged these people will become. The truth has become racism in this wicked, racist society where EVERYTHING is based upon race.

  • Scott Carter

    I think they should just stop using the term “black suspect” in any of the descriptions. Perhaps “youth” or “teen”, like the MSM uses, might be more appropriate.
    ONLY list the race of the perpetrator if HE is WHITE. Isn’t that the REAL goal of the anti-racist agenda?

    • Joe

      Helter skelter!

  • Alex Friedrich

    Although I welcome a healthy debate over racial profiling, I’ve had to remove several offensive comments.
    Let’s please keep the standards high, folks.

  • Joel

    Black Organizations like the Black Student Union and the NAACP has
    constantly uses various discrimination arguments to promote inequality.
    The Black Student Union is using the Racial Profile argument to hinder a
    criminal investigation because the suspects are black. This is an on
    going problem that the black communities in this country are promoting.
    The Zimmerman case is a well know example of this. 6500 black people are
    murdered in the US every year. The only time the black communities
    “protest violence”, is the one that wasn’t murdered by another black
    person. Brown vs the Board of Education was meant to end segregation is
    school. Why then is their a Student Union (for all students) and a Black
    Student Union (for black students)? The inequality being promoted by
    the black communities and the abuse of the various civil rights laws that
    they fought to get passed will not be tolerated. If groups like the
    NAACP want to continue promoting this double standard and this racist
    agenda, then they can be grouped with the KKK.

  • Joel

    I understand why your angry. But I would suggest leaving emotional
    comments out, because them your playing into their arguments. Despite,
    various arguments, the crime rates in the black communities are the
    highest in the country. Lowering those rates will go along way to greatly
    improve the social and economic issues faced by those communities.

  • Joel

    “November 11 alleged robbery in Anderson Hall that resulted in a Black student being wrongfully identified and publicized as the suspect”
    The correct action should have been weather or not this violated due process.

  • melanie1010

    Yes, let’s sacrifice people’s safety for the sake of political correctness. That is the sane and morally correct thing to do.

    • Joe

      I agree, I think racial profiling makes our society less safe with respect to law enforcement’s view of what is politically correct.

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    I’m surprised these students aren’t speaking out in frustration towards the black men who are commiting these crimes, making life more difficult for them, and only contributing to racial stereotypes. I feel bad for the solid, honest black men trying to study hard and contribute to society while being mistaken for criminals. I wish they could see the difficult position the police are in, trying to go after the bad guys and not the good. I wonder if atire and grooming choices might make discering between the two might make things easier for the police. The reality is I read the police reports last year and literally 10 in a row has suspect descriptions of a black male in his early 20’s. I think this problem will not be solved by the police and must come from within the black community.