Over 100 people gathered outside of the University of Minnesota Police Department headquarters on Sunday for a protest and “die-in” to demand the University minimize police presence, create a student and community accountability council and disarm and defund UMPD.
Students for a Democratic Society’s UMN chapter organized the event. Members distributed their list of demands, hosted student speakers and led Black Lives Matter chants. During the demonstration, protesters laid on the concrete sidewalk outside of UMPD headquarters for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time then-Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck.
Sunday’s protest was the third event hosted by SDS since Floyd’s death, though other protests have been held almost daily on campus and in Dinkytown.
The goal was to escalate SDS protests and correlate UMPD with MPD since the departments work together and receive similar training, said SDS member and event co-organizer Fanta Diallo.
“If MPD is guilty, UMPD is guilty,” Diallo said.
There was no police presence at the event, unlike a previous peaceful protest late last month where over 25 UMPD officers with weapons arrived as the crowd began to disperse. President Joan Gabel apologized for their actions at an SDS protest outside her mansion last week but drew criticism for not acting on their demands.
“If Black students are telling you that they don’t feel safe, and you care about equity and diversity, how can that add up? Who are you protecting?” said third-year student and co-organizer Jaelah Lymon at the die-in.
Members handed out gravestone-shaped signs with the names of Black people, Indigenous people and people of color killed by police before the die-in began.
For eight minutes and 46 seconds, the crowd lay still and silent in honor of George Floyd.
Skyler Dorr, a recent graduate and long-time SDS member, has attended as many demonstrations as they can while balancing work — the protest was held on a Sunday to allow more people to participate.
“It’s nice to be able to help coordinate with everyone and be present during the action again,” Dorr said.
SDS ended the gathering with a call for a week of action, encouraging people to decorate Joan Gabel’s mansion with signs, banners and sidewalk chalk urging her to remove cops from campus.
“I chose to lay here, I chose to do this,” Diallo said. “George Floyd didn’t have a choice.”