Students protest Jacob Blake shooting, UMPD on steps of Memorial Union

Roughly 60 students gathered Saturday at a sit-in organized by Students for a Democratic Society to advocate for police reform on campus.

%E2%80%9CThe+only+way+that+movements+like+this+are+powerful+is+if+we+have+all+y%27all+there+to+support+us%2C+when+they+do+try+to+take+somebody+out+of+the+movement%2C+when+they+do+try+to+repress+us%2C%E2%80%9D+said+University+student+Olivia+Krull+at+Memorial+Union+rally+on+Saturday%2C+Aug.+29.+Krull+was+referring+to+the+arrest+of+a+Kenosha+activists%2C+including+a+Students+for+a+Democratic+Society+member.

“The only way that movements like this are powerful is if we have all y’all there to support us, when they do try to take somebody out of the movement, when they do try to repress us,” said University student Olivia Krull at Memorial Union rally on Saturday, Aug. 29. Krull was referring to the arrest of a Kenosha activists, including a Students for a Democratic Society member.

Hana Ikramuddin

Around 60 University of Minnesota students gathered Saturday to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in an event hosted by Students for a Democratic Society.

At the rally held in front of the Memorial Union, SDS voiced several demands for campus police reform and proposed action for University President Joan Gabel to take toward improving life on campus for students of color. These demands primarily focus on community control over the University of Minnesota Police Department, which would allow students to defund the police, dismiss officers and determine the budget allocated to the police force. 

During the rally, SDS also denounced the review the University is planning to do of its police force, as announced in a recent email from Gabel to University students, faculty and staff. The University hired Cedric Alexander, a consultant with a background in law enforcement, to lead the review. According to the protesters, the recent police shootings are enough to warrant significant changes within UMPD, making the review unnecessary. 

The protest was also a way to show solidarity with a Kenosha SDS member and other activists that were arrested and detained for 24 hours on their way to a protest, said Olivia Crull, a student who spoke at the rally. Police shot Jacob Blake seven times in Kenosha, Wisc., an event that sparked nationwide protests just three months after the killing of George Floyd.

“The only way that movements like this are powerful is if we have all y’all there to support us, when they do try to take somebody out of the movement, when they do try to repress us,” Crull said. “SDS chapters across the country have been standing up for Jacob Blake but they’ve also been standing up for our fellow activists in Kenosha.”

Before the event ended, the hosts opened the mic for students in the audience. One person who was called forward to speak was the University’s chapter of White Coats for Black Lives (WCBL) President Dominique Earland. WCBL, a group of medical students who work to increase diversity and awareness of racism in the medical field, have been engaged in ongoing protests against police brutality and racism. The group has also been leading the charge to have Daniel Michelson, a University medical student who vandalized the George Floyd memorial, expelled.

“It’s insane to think that you can have a racist who committed an act, was recorded, took a smiling photo, and is proud of it, and still be enrolled in our institution,” Earland said.

She also said University members should demand policies that punish and expel students for racist acts in their respective spaces.

“There is no accountability within the police, therefore they think it allows them to play judge, jury and executioner. It does not … This is why we have to have community control,” said Destiny Franks-Velisek.