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U of MN SDS: “University lies about cancelation of appearance by Chief Zwelivelile Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela”

By staff

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the University of Minnesota chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

The University of Minnesota is lying to the public about the cancellation of a speaking event featuring Nkosi Mandela – anti-apartheid activist, member of the South African National Assembly, tribal chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, and grandson of Nelson Mandela. Chief Zwelivelile Mandela had been scheduled to speak at the Cowles Auditorium in the Humphrey School for Public Affairs on the UMN campus on May 16. Several grassroots activist organizations in the Twin Cities, including the Center for American-Islamic Relations, the Anti-War Committee, and the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice for Jamar, had helped organize this event. This event was a part of a larger nationwide speaking tour – sponsored by the US Palestinian Community Network and NAARPR – on the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government.

The day before the event, University administration informed the organizers that it was canceled due to a violent threat from a white supremacist. Admin demanded that the organizers provide their own security for the event if they still wanted to host it at the Humphrey School, despite the immense security resources at the University’s disposal. The organizers, with little time to prepare, moved the event and Chief Mandela’s speech to a different venue, where the event occurred as planned. The University outright lied in a statement to the Star Tribune, placing the blame for the event’s cancellation at the feet of the organizers, claiming that they were the ones who canceled the event at the U. This is unequivocally false and a complete lie; the University abruptly canceled the event and made ridiculous demands of the organizers.

It is incredibly shameful that the University of Minnesota has lied to the press, the public, and the UMN community about this issue and attempted to shift the blame to grassroots Twin Cities organizations that form a valuable part of the city community and carry out important activist work. SDS demands that admin acknowledge and unequivocally apologize for lying about the event’s cancellation.

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