End the racialized crime alerts

Crime alerts can, realistically, be seen as an official University of Minnesota statement that invites a bias against almost all black students on campus. The reports put black students at risk for increased macro- and micro-aggressions.

The University has recognized the need to work to improve the campus climate through President Eric Kaler’s formation of the Campus Climate Working Group. Micro-aggressions have been reported on our campus. Members of the University community have reported, in interviews, experiencing micro-aggressions such as being looked at differently and people walking faster or crossing the street to avoid individuals of color.

Being the target of racial discrimination poses a health risk to students of color, with racial discrimination being linked to adverse effects on mental and physical health — including depression, psychological distress and increased substance use.

Students of color are especially underrepresented in graduate programs, and added pressure from discrimination is found to be detrimental to their retention. Not only are discriminatory aggressions committed, but people tend to remain unaware of the biases they may be acting on regardless of their own identity. This phenomenon is illustrated by studies changing names on job applications and emails from “African-American” names to “White” ones.

When thinking about the use and importance of reporting the race of crime suspects in crime alerts, two highly relevant reports come to mind. In a recent report, crime analysts found that 480 out of 1,000 black residents in Minneapolis are arrested; in St. Paul, 395 out of 1,000 black residents are arrested.

In a second, nationally cited report called Operation Ghetto Storm, analysts found that in 2012, every 28 hours a black person was the victim of extrajudicial killings at the hands of police, security guards or vigilantes. Minneapolis was among the top cities in the nation with the most disproportionate number of extrajudicial killings relative to the black population.

The research shows that there is injustice in the judicial system. This injustice is built upon a system that is unfairly designed. We know that maintaining such a system results in unequal, often violent treatment. Knowing this, it is finally time to retire this racist policy of using race in crime reports at the University.