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Anti-cop student activists at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities hoped to leverage the fervor over the police shooting of Daunte Wright to achieve their goal of cancelling the campus police department’s leader. But they’re finding what goes around comes around.
In a belligerent two-page letter to U of M President Joan Gabel, the leadership of the student government recently demanded the resignation of Police Chief Matthew Clark for the usual politically incorrect infractions.
Matt Clark has repeatedly and unequivocally disregarded student demands, failed to increase campus wellness and safety for students of color, and has allowed the utilization of UMPD as a physical arm of the oppressive state to subjugate and silence community members both on and off campus. In his 29 years of police experience, none of his projects, aspirations, or accomplishments have aligned with the advancement of underrepresented communities or police reform.
The Minnesota Student Association’s tantrum ended with an ultimatum.
…We expect administrative response in less than two business days. If our demands are not met, we will accept this as a failure of the administration to properly serve the student body and will begin planning direct actions to not only ensure the resignation of Matt Clark but the transformation of the UMPD.
But the activists’ belligerence has backfired. If anything Clark’s job security seems stronger than ever with the Star Tribune reporting that University president Gabel unequivocally backed the chief in her response to activists.
As for the demand that Clark resign, Gabel swiftly rejected the notion in a letter to student government leaders this week.
“As we take our next steps, we do so with respect for student voice but with full support of the good work Chief Clark and his team are doing to advance our shared aspiration to be a more equitable and just campus community that is safe in every sense of that word,” Gabel wrote.
Law enforcement officials also came to the aid of Clark, who’s dealing with a violent crime wave on and near the campus.
Jim Mortenson, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, a union representing the university officers and personnel across the state, said student leaders should recognize the need for police to respond to crime on and near campus. Just last month, there were a few dozen burglaries, 22 car thefts, 13 aggravated assaults and a homicide reported in neighborhoods around the Twin Cities campus.
“Those calls for service don’t go away,” Mortenson said. “Can police do better? Everybody can do better in their jobs. But we don’t have to get radical on the whole thing.”
In addition, other U of M student leaders have criticized the MSA’s take no prisoners tactics.
Student government members Andrew Knuppel and Morgan McElroy said they fear their peers are damaging relationships with administrators and campus police, who hold the key to possible reforms. They both opposed the demand for Clark to resign.
“I thought it was too brash and too fast and we didn’t really have a lot of proof to back it up,” McElroy said.
To top it off, the Star Tribune editorial board has come down firmly against the students and for the campus cops.
University leaders should, of course, listen to student concerns and take action when appropriate. But they should not give in to unreasonable demands that would do nothing to make the campus and surrounding neighborhoods safer.
The calls to fire the chief, cut ties with other law enforcement agencies and require no-excuse-required extensions on class assignments for some Black, Muslim and some students involved in protests go too far.
On second thought, perhaps some involved with this controversy should step down–the leaders of the Minnesota Student Association who clearly do not speak for most of their peers on the issue and importance of police.