What would you have UMPD do?

Aleksandra Brodskaya

I am increasingly baffled by calls for the police to not use the term âÄúEast AfricanâÄù in reports of crimes on and near campus. What exactly would these critics have the police write instead? I understand that immigrants from East Africa speak a variety of languages, dialects and do not all look the same; however, a person from East Africa is no doubt still distinguishable in appearance and language from people of other major regions (say, Latin America or eastern Europe), whatever his or her exact origins and language may be. The fact of the matter is that a description stating that the suspects speak some foreign language of African origin is probably a better functional description for police than one merely describing the suspectâÄôs race and height. I am an eastern European immigrant myself, but I would not be offended if someone described me as such in a police report and noted that I spoke in an eastern European accent or language. I respect the use of general terms in investigations and crime alerts. I can really only see the criticsâÄô point in that perhaps students cannot tell the difference between âÄúNorth AfricanâÄù and âÄúEast AfricanâÄù dialects. While the majority of African immigrants in Minneapolis may be from East Africa, I donâÄôt think we need to jump to the conclusion that all suspects of African background are, in fact, East African. That, I can agree, is just shoddy stereotyping. I hope that the police may correct that particular error in their reporting, but otherwise the idea that the police should entirely eliminate their description of suspectsâÄô foreign origins merely because they are offensive seems too ludicrous to warrant serious consideration. Aleksandra Brodskaya, University undergraduate student