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UMN student organization leads protest following recent police violence

Students for a Democratic Society led the “Justice for All Stolen Lives” protest outside of Coffman Union after the release of more body cam footage depicting police violence.
Image by Allison Skarda
Protesters renewed calls for police reform, including community control of police.

About 20 students and community members marched from Coffman l Union to the University of Minnesota Transportation and Safety Building Friday to protest police brutality and call for community controlled policing. 

The “Justice for All Stolen Lives” protest, which was organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was created after officers from three different police departments around the country killed three people in recent weeks. The protest’s goal was to renew calls for police reform.

“There has been, over the past month or so, just an absolutely tragic number of police killings across the country,” said Cal Mergendahl, a first-year University graduate student who attended the protest.

Keenan Anderson died on Jan. 3 of cardiac arrest less than five hours after Los Angeles Police Department officers repeatedly tasered him. Manuel Terán died on Jan. 18 after a confrontation with the Georgia State Patrol, during which police shot them at least 13 times. Tyre Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after Memphis police officers brutally and repeatedly beat him. 

“We are here to demand justice for them as we have done for, unfortunately, so many people in the past and to amplify the calls for real police accountability,” Mergendahl said. 

Protestors called for charges to be brought against police officers involved in the deaths of Anderson, Terán and Nichols. They carried signs to honor each person, which included their photos and calls for justice. 

“We want them all charged for murder and a fair trial and a conviction as soon as possible,” SDS member and fourth-year University student Mira Altobell-Resendez said. 

The protest was part of “National Day of Action Against Police Terror,” a national initiative SDS chapters across the country participated in through organizing their own protest against police brutality.

The protest included speakers from various community and student organizations, such as White Coats for Black Lives, Students for Climate Justice and the Anti-War Committee. They spoke about the need for police accountability and the importance of community control of the police. 

A speaker from Twin City Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J), collected signatures for a petition for community control of policing. TCC4J has been advocating for community control of the Minneapolis Police Department since 2017 and has established draft legislation for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). A CPAC would allow civilians to decide who polices the community and how. 

“I think the primary goal of this protest was to keep energy up around the struggle for community control of police,” SDS member and University student Sorcha Lona said. 

The protest ended with a march from Coffman Union to the Transportation and Safety Building, where the University of Minnesota Police Department is housed. Leading the march were protesters holding a banner that read “Convict Killer Cops.”

Despite having to brave below freezing temperatures, SDS members said they were pleased with the protest’s turnout.

“It’s just important to be out consistently, even though it’s really cold, even though we don’t get thousands of people,” Lona said. “It’s actions like these, staying consistent in our efforts, that really lead to change.”


Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Manuel Terán’s gender identity. Terán was nonbinary and used they/them pronouns. 

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