Black Groups at the University of Minnesota Seek to End Racial Descriptions in Crime Alerts

UMN_logoSeveral African American organizations at the University of Minnesota joined in sending an appeal to the university administration to stop using descriptions of race when issuing crime alerts on campus. Among the signatories of the letter were the Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, the Black Student Union, and the Black Men’s Forum.

The campus groups said in their letter that “efforts to reduce crime should never be at the expense of our Black men, or any specific group of people likely to be targeted. In addition to causing Black men to feel unsafe and distrusted, racial profiling is proven to inflict negative psychological effects on its victims.”

Pamela Wheelock, vice president of university services, responded to the letter by stating that the university would continue to provide racial or ethnic information in crime alerts when that information is available, a practice, she said, was followed by other peer universities in the Big Ten Conference. In her statement, Wheelock said, “I firmly believe that a well-informed community is an asset to public safety. I believe that sharing more information in our Crime Alerts, not less, is most beneficial in terms of public safety, especially when that information is available. The information we share can include a complete description of suspects, unique identifying characteristics such as an accent or a distinctive piece of clothing, or the description of vehicles involved.”

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