A despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable situation that unfolded in Minnesota Monday has a college football connection.
Monday night, 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer took a knee on the man’s neck. For several minutes.
Floyd was a black man. The police officer is a white man.
“I can’t breathe, please, the knee in my neck. I can’t move … my neck … I’m through, I’m through.”
Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd have since been fired.
Wednesday, the University of Minnesota announced that it has severed its most significant ties to the Minneapolis Police Department. The MPD had assisted the university for large events, including Minnesota football games. That relationship will not move forward for now and the foreseeable future.
From a letter attributed to university president Joan Gabel:
Today I am announcing two immediate changes regarding our relationship with MPD.
First, I have directed 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.
Second, I have directed University Police Chief Matt Clark to no longer use the Minneapolis Police Department when specialized services are needed for University events, such as K-9 Explosive detection units.
The university hasn’t completely severed ties with Minneapolis police, though, with Gabel explaining that UM 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.”
Outside of that? The university’s “hearts are broken” and filled with “overwhelming sadness.”
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. 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.
I write to you to express our overwhelming sadness, and our demands for accountability and justice. 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.