Black community raises issue of racial profiling

Six groups sent a letter to administrators and police Friday addressing the issue.

by Bryna Godar

With the recent string of crime alerts emailed to the University of Minnesota student body, the black community has an additional safety concern: racial profiling.

Six groups sent a letter to President Eric Kaler and University Services Vice President Pamela Wheelock Friday calling on them and University police to work with the groups to keep the community safe from crime while keeping people of color safe from racial profiling. The Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, the Black Men’s Forum, the Black Student Union, the African American and African Studies Department and Huntley House for African American Males all signed the letter.

The letter comes a month after the Black Faculty and Staff Association, along with members of other campus groups, met with University Police Chief Greg Hestness to discuss the impact of the crime alerts and steps to address racial profiling.

The groups say they have not seen the changes implemented and are requesting a written response summarizing the department’s actions with regard to the recommendations. The primary recommendations involve posting the University police department’s policy on racial or bias-based profiling on its website, sending a University-wide email detailing the policy and including the policy in crime alerts with the statement: “The University of Minnesota does not tolerate racial profiling. Click here to view the Racial/Bias Based Profiling Policy.”

The policy defines racial or bias profiling as “any action initiated by law enforcement that relies on the race, ethnicity or national origin of an individual rather than the behavior of that individual.”

Members of the groups plan to work with police and administration on events and education throughout the spring semester to address the issue throughout the University and Twin Cities communities.