MSA calls for the resignation of UMPD Chief Matthew Clark

In a letter addressed to University administrators, MSA asks Chief Clark to resign after his failure to “increase campus wellness and safety for students of color.”

UMPD chief Matt Clark on Jan. 29, 2018.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

UMPD chief Matt Clark on Jan. 29, 2018.

by Ava Thompson

The Minnesota Student Association is calling for the University Police Department Chief Matthew Clark to resign due to his alleged refusal to “reform” UMPD and communicate with student leaders in addressing issues of policing on campus.

In a letter addressed to President Joan Gabel and Senior Vice President Myron Frans, MSA demands that Clark immediately resign and an interim chief who is “committed to diversity and inclusion, community control of policing [and the] demilitarization of UMPD” replace Clark during the hiring process.

The letter also noted Clark’s lack of response to an incident of racial profiling of a Black student that occurred at Hanson Hall.

“In his five and half years as Chief of Police at the University of Minnesota, Matt Clark has repeatedly and unequivocally disregarded student demands, failed to increase campus wellness and safety for students of color and has allowed the utilization of UMPD as a physical arm of the oppressive state to subjugate and silence community members both on and off campus,” the letter reads.

This move comes after UMPD officers were found assisting Brooklyn Center police with crowd control tactics during protests that followed the police killing of Daunte Wright. President Gabel confirmed that UMPD is a part of the West Command Task Force, an alliance of police chiefs that allows officers from other departments to assist one another.

Current and upcoming MSA leaders released a statement earlier this month demanding that the University cease its participation in the West Command Task Force after protesters were met with “excessive violence from police forces and the National Guard.”

Police and state patrol officers were seen firing pepper balls, flashbangs and tear gas into the crowds during protests on April 12.

Authors of the statement, Jack Flom and Rebecca Jacobson, said they were arrested in Brooklyn Center and detained for 48 hours after attempting to drive some protestors home.

“We were informed that Chief Clark was in charge of approving UMPD going to join other forces in Brooklyn Center on Sunday night and allowing UMPD to be utilized in that way to traumatize people,” Jacobson said. “So that, compounded with all of the other issues with Matt Clark and UMPD over the last year or more, is kind of what spurred taking action now.”

The MSA letter said that they expect a response from the University in one to two business days. If demands are not met, the letter says, they will plan “direct actions to not only ensure the resignation of Matt Clark but the transformation of UMPD.”

Student groups, such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), have taken to the streets to protest the killing of Daunte Wright and UMPD’s involvement in Brooklyn Center.

“Now that the trial is over, we cannot become complacent,” SDS said in an Instagram post. “There is so much work to do, and so much to win from our administration.”