University of Minnesota to limit ties with Minneapolis police after George Floyd's death

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two days after a black man in Minnesota died after being pinned by police, the University of Minnesota announced that it will limit its relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department.

School president Joan Gabel made the announcement Wednesday in a letter that was sent to students, faculty and staff members, writing that the university no longer will use local officers to assist at major events, including Golden Gophers football games.

George Floyd, 46, died Monday night while in Minneapolis police custody. A bystander's video showed officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the handcuffed Floyd's neck, even after Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. Two other Minneapolis officers held Floyd down while a fourth officer stood nearby and interacted with bystanders who pleaded with the officers to get off Floyd.

All four officers involved in the incident were fired Tuesday. On Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey demanded criminal charges for the officers.

Protests were held in the city Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers against George Floyd leading to his tragic death," Gabel said in her letter. "As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken. I do not have the words to fully express my pain and anger and I know that many in our community share those feelings, but also fear for their own safety. This will not stand."

Gabel said she has directed school officials to "no longer contract the Minneapolis Police Department" for large on-campus events, including football games, and said the school will cut ties with the MPD for "specialized services" such as "K-9 explosive detection units."

She went on to write that Minnesota will "limit our collaboration with the MPD to joint patrols and investigations that directly enhance the safety of our community or that allow us to investigate and apprehend those who put our students, faculty, and staff at risk."

TCF Bank Stadium is about 5 miles from the site of Floyd's death. At football games, Minneapolis police often had a strong presence accompanying the university's police force.

One day before Gabel's announcement, the university's undergraduate student body president, Jael Kerandi, issued a letter and a petition demanding that the school sever its ties with the Minneapolis police.

"We no longer wish to have a meeting or come to an agreement, there is no middle ground," Kerandi's letter said. "The police are murdering black men with no meaningful repercussions. This is not a problem of some other place or some other time. This is happening right here in Minneapolis."

The Minnesota Vikings said they were deeply saddened by the incident, which happened blocks from their U.S. Bank Stadium. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was among several professional athletes who spoke out against the actions of Minneapolis police.

Gabel is the University of Minnesota's first female president. She was appointed in 2018, and her term began last year.

"We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them," Gabel wrote. "I write to you to express our overwhelming sadness, and our demands for accountability and justice. Our campuses and facilities are a part of the communities in which they reside. University students, staff, and faculty are day-to-day participants in the life of every community in this state, and we must act when our neighbors are harmed and in pain."