U of M Crime Alerts Raise Questions as Unsolved Violent Cases Pile Up

The violent crime wave underway in Minneapolis includes numerous holdups and assaults involving guns and other weapons in the vicinity of the University of Minnesota campus.  Over the weekend there was a brazen carjacking in broad daylight, according to the Star Tribune.

A BMW was carjacked at gunpoint near the University of Minnesota, bringing to nine in recent weeks the number of violent crimes reported by school authorities.

The latest incident occurred about 6:30 p.m. Saturday near SE. 14th Avenue and SE. 8th Street, according to an emergency crime alert sent by university officials in the Twin Cities.

Two suspects brandished a gun and took a driver’s wallet and 2020 BMW, the alert disclosed.

There’s already been another attempted carjacking since then, bringing the total number of serious incidents recently near the U to ten. The Strib account rattled off the list of the crimes based on the university’s crime alerts. For example:

On Sept. 3 about 2:45 a.m., five suspects implied they had a gun and robbed someone near SE. 15th Avenue and SE. University Avenue of a phone and wallet.

On Aug. 30 about 12:10 a.m., three males showed their robbery victim a handgun near SE. 4th Street and SE. 11th Avenue.

On Aug. 22 about 9:15 p.m., suspects robbed two people near SE. 27th Avenue and SE. Como Avenue.

The paper’s breakdown of the incidents notes they share two key things in common. The crime alerts tend to omit key physical characteristics of the suspects, including race. And none of the recent crimes appears to have been solved yet, including the carjacking.

Other than the suspects possibly being in their teens, the university did not offer any descriptions of the pair.

No arrests have been announced in this or any of the other crimes in the past four-plus weeks…

For most of the suspects, various physical descriptions were not disclosed by the university.

As usual university police did not specify the race of the perpetrators of the carjacking in the crime alert, although it would seem to be a critical detail in warning the public and helping to solve the crime. Nevertheless, the campus cops did think it necessary to publicize the color of the stolen vehicle (“Black BMW”), presumably for the purposes of identification on the university website.

About five years ago the U of M changed its policy of automatically including the race of suspects in crime alerts out of concern the “alerts may unintentionally reinforce racist stereotypes of Black men, and other people of color, as criminals and threats.” At the time, officials gave assurances it would be done on a case-by-case basis where the perpetrator’s identity was “vague.”

Fast forward to 2020 and a check of the U crime alerts issued reveals that’s clearly not the case. All of the university’s safety alerts issued this year exclude the suspects’ race, a policy which has now become standard practice, as the number of unsolved current cases keeps piling up.