University of Minnesota SDS protests militarization of campus police
Minneapolis, MN – On May 3, around two dozen people gathered to protest the increased militarization of the University of Minnesota Police Department. The rally, held by Students for a Democratic Society, was part of a broader campaign to disarm the UMPD.
“We think that this is a perfect opportunity for the University to leverage themselves on a progressive course in society” and “nip in the bud any circumstances where police can murder people,” said SDS member Marty Branyon.
Several people spoke, including Loretta VanPelt from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Rahsaan Mahadeo from Differences Organized, and Olivia Crull from Students for a Democratic Society. Students chanted calling for the disarmament and dissolution of the UMPD.
The UMPD currently has 141 guns in its stockpile, 57 of which are assault rifles. This has led to about a 3:1 ratio of guns to police officers. They are also receiving an increase to their budget, while academic departments see cuts. The Minneapolis and Duluth campuses are also the only campuses in the state system with their own separate police department.
The department does not answer to city officials, instead they are under the control of the administration of the university. There is no system in place to hold them accountable to students or area residents.
SDS is offering alternatives to the handguns carried by UMPD officers, such presenting non-lethal options. However, they demand that assault weaponry be removed from use at protests against students.
The rally followed similar student movements around the country, like at the University of Michigan, and Stony Brook, New York.