Stadium Village rally calls for UMPD to disarm

Students at several universities around the country have organized similar movements in response to gun violence.

Members of Students for a Democratic Society stand outside of UMPD headquarters voicing concerns about the quantity of weapons at the department's disposal on Thursday, April 12.

Jack Rodgers

Members of Students for a Democratic Society stand outside of UMPD headquarters voicing concerns about the quantity of weapons at the department’s disposal on Thursday, April 12.

Max Chao

A Stadium Village student rally supported a growing nationwide movement calling for the disarmament of campus police departments.

About 15 students and activists and two speakers gathered adjacent to the University of Minnesota Police Department’s headquarters to call for the department to disarm Thursday.

Students for a Democratic Society, an activist student group, organized the event, and attendees handed out fliers, spoke to passers-by and chanted anti-police slogans. 

“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 Marty Branyon, a student and member of SDS. 

The last time a UMPD officer fired a weapon on duty was in 2012, when an officer shot a dying raccoon on the St. Paul campus. This is the only reported incident in the past 10 years.

The event was part of the launch of a larger campaign by SDS, the end goal of which is the complete dismantling of UMPD.

Fliers handed out at the protest claimed that UMPD owns 57 automatic assault rifles and spends $500,000 per year on new arms and supplies.

The University is the latest college where students organized on this issue. Among others, Howard University, University of Pittsburgh and Stony Brook University have all seen student activity on a similar premise in the past year. 

Campus police officers at both Georgia Tech and University of Chicago have shot students in the past year, with the Georgia Tech shooting resulting in a fatality. 

The concentration of young liberals at colleges is likely the cause of the spread of activism on campuses, said Michelle Phelps, professor of sociology at the University.

Phelps added that these movements are indicative of a decades-long shift in American activism and in the way people view weapons.

“The more you have police officers armed to respond to folks in the community who are armed and potentially pose a threat, the more that there’s a risk of that threat actually coming from the police officers,” she said. 

UMPD has no plans to discontinue its use of standard-issue handguns or rifles, said UMPD Chief Matt Clark in an emailed statement, citing the need to be prepared for active shooter events. 

SDS hopes to hold another similar event at the end of the semester.