Editorial: UMN, police need to be transparent in wake of Somali Night arrests

Daily Editorial Board

On Friday night, the Somali Student Association held their annual Somali Night at Northrop Auditorium. The night mostly went according to plan, SSA said in a Sunday statement. At the end, however, police officers from multiple agencies showed up outside Northrop. A chemical irritant was used to maintain safety, according to the University of Minnesota, and two people were arrested

After these events, rumors were flying. SSA released a statement across their social media platforms to clarify the events and how their group had been impacted. The statement was three pages long and thoroughly covered what had happened on Friday night in their eyes. They also called for justice toward those that had been arrested. 

The University responded with their own statement on Sunday. The statement was brief and offered little to clarify the events that were carried out. In the University statement, the school said “officers used minimal force.” The statement by SSA directly contradicts this. If the responding police officers did use minimal force, the police should show the public that their response was justified. Additionally, the University said a fight broke out between 30-40 people and fights continued for an hour. Once again, the SSA statement contradicts this, saying fights occurred after the event and were only between two to three people. SSA reported that police spoke rudely and physically harassed some people attempting to exit the event. In the brief statement, the University does not address this whatsoever. 

The University needs to extend its statement, as it was not a thorough enough response to the events that took place in Northrop on Friday night. Sunday’s statement was a weak attempt to offer answers. 

What SSA said happened at the event is troubling. They have a responsibility to back up their account of the night to the public, releasing any videos they have and having affected individuals speak up. The incident is still fresh and may bring up painful memories, but this is necessary to provide a truthful account of the night. However, the greater responsibility lies on the University to publicly address each of SSA’s claims, offer transparency by expanding their own statement and release any videos they have. With the amount of rumors about and the growing public interest in the incident, these things must happen to ensure the truth comes out.

Questions and concerns need to be directly addressed. The statement provided by the University was insufficient. Why were there over 20 police cars at the event? What is their timeline of Friday’s event? What is being done to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Will the University address concerns instead of staying mostly silent?

In order for all students to feel safer at future events, the University needs to offer more.