Black students ask University to stop using racial descriptions in crime alerts


Photo: Bob Crippa, KARE 11

Black students and staff at the University of Minnesota have joined forces to ask that campus police discontinue using racial descriptions in school-wide crime alerts saying racial profiling of black males “inflicts negative psychological effects” on them.

Members of the “African American and African Studies, Black Faculty and Staff Association, Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, Black Men’s Forum, Black Student Union and Huntley House for African American Males” sent a letter in early December to university officials citing a November incident where campus police “wrongfully identified a student as the suspect” in an attempted robbery.

“[We] unanimously agree that campus safety should be of the UMPD’s utmost importance; however, efforts to reduce crime should never be at the expense of our Black men, or any specific group of people likely to be targeted,” the letter read, according to the local CBS News affiliate. “In addition to causing Black men to feel unsafe and distrusted, racial profiling is proven to inflict negative psychological effects on its victims.”

Ian Taylor, Jr., president of the Black Men’s Forum said Wednesday at a meeting that crime alerts with the repeated wording of “black, black, black suspect…really discomforts the mental and physical comfort for students on campus because they feel like suspicions begin to increase.”

The letter outlined 12 suggested recommendations, including requiring officers with the University of Minnesota Police Department to “attend diversity training,” the CBS report said.

On Tuesday, after announcing that robberies “in and around” the campus have increased “27 percent over the last few years,” Pamela Wheelock, vice president of University Services, responded in writing to the group’s concerns, but disagreed with the recommendations to remove racial descriptions in campus crime alerts.

According to the article:

I am concerned that members of your organizations and others in the University community believe there to be an increase in racial profiling. As I stated earlier profiling will not be tolerated on campus. If there is a concern or complaint about University police practices, both Chief Hestness and I are committed to investigating the matter promptly and thoroughly.

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.

We have reviewed what other Big Ten Universities and local colleges and universities include, and our practice of including the race of a suspect when it is available from a victim’s description is consistent with their practices.

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Janeen Capizola

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." And fun! This conservative-minded political junkie, mom of three, dancer and one-time NFL cheerleader holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science. [email protected] Twitter: @JaneenBPR


  • Mark Banacek

    Let me get this straight. The Black Student Union, the Black Faculty and Staff Organization, the Black Graduate and Professional Student Organization, et al are upset that black criminals roaming the streets are described as being black. This must be joke right?? Please tell me it’s a joke.

    • Jose Hernandez


    • Ernesto Arceo

      They are the ones who continue using the word black as it appears.Is there a white Minnesota Student Union there, etc ?

      • Pamela K. Cahoon Laub

        Can you imagine the uproar that would cause?!

    • laurachatfield

      They have profiled themselves right out of credibility for their argument. :)

  • SusieQ

    Well, we don’t want hurt someone’s feeling while they are raping, murdering and robbing. I’ll bet you when one of those students protesting the so called profiling are the victim they’ll change their tune if they manage to stay alive.

  • Nan

    Keep in mind that this is a crazy liberal state.

  • Seriously?

    Of course, once you remove “black” from crime alerts, but keep in white, asian, hispanic – you’ll instantly know when a suspect is black because it WON’T say what race they are.

    SO, in order to really do what they’re asking, you’ll have to give no information at all.

    Eventually a law will be passed to ensure this very thing, and a crime alert will go out that won’t describe the race of the suspect, and the suspect will then harm another individual, leading to a lawsuit where the issuer of the alert will be found liable, which will result in them canceling the alerts because they can’t do their job.

    And hurrah! Black men everywhere will FINALLY walk the streets feeling much safer.

    • laurachatfield

      At my job they have discontinued the option to choose Caucasian as a race. We are now white, non-Hispanics. So I guess they will have to call these suspects Non-White, Non-Hispanic, non-Oriental (or is Oriental not allowed either?), non-Little Green Martians. By saying what they aren’t the cops will be able to deduce what they “are”. Unfortunately, by the time all this is said, security personnel are out of breath and are unable to continue chasing the suspect and the trail goes cold before the cops arrive.

      • Pamela K. Cahoon Laub

        Oriental isn’t PC, they are Asians. A liberal jumped me about that. It was near Christmas so I sang a song to her: “We three kings of Asia are, bearing gifts we travel so far….” Bah!

  • Jose Hernandez

    If it is a matter of skin color mixed with crime you can call them “RACOONS”,THEY ARE THE MOST SIMILAR TO THAT SPECIES…..

  • Diana Smith

    Just exactly how should black people be described when trying to assist the public in identifying someone? I’m at a loss to answer my own question. Are they dark brown? Are they not white? Are they similar in color to our racist president? WTF ? We should have picked the cotton ourselves. Ugggh

    • laurachatfield

      Maybe they would be less offended if their shade of darkness was described as a flavor or fashion color- Coffee, toffee, caramel, taupe, mahogany, ebony, midnight, cappuccino, chocolate, brown sugar (they seem to love that one) etc.

    • Mauldin Joe Boggs IV


    • Eric Goodman

      Actually, the Speaker of the House looked darker than the President during the SOTU.

    • Tim

      “Just exactly how should black people be described when trying to assist the public in identifying someone?”

      That then begs the question if these “black” groups doing this protest-request are in fact trying to assist black criminals in “getting away with it”. It wouldn’t surprise me if that were the “real” reason for this. Either that or they just don’t want to be reminded that black “gangster culture” people in our society commit the greater share of crimes vs other “groups”.

      The reality is the reality. I would want to know if the majority of crimes in our society were caused by teenage white males who subscribed to a certain dress/culture.

  • William_JD

    In related news, White students have asked the university to stop using racial descriptions in the admissions process.

  • William_JD

    …racial profiling of black males “inflicts negative psychological effects” on them.

    Yeah, well, crime inflicts real harm on the victims, so that is a small price to pay.

  • Robert Jennings

    I suspect that blacks are more frequently identified as assailants as other races, so the blacks want that bit of information left out. A blatant attempt to disguise the fact that blacks are much more likely to victimize others than all the other races combined.

    • Pamela K. Cahoon Laub

      If the blacks committed less crime their race wouldn’t have to be mentioned. (They have black organizations so why do we have to call them anything else?)

    • Mark Banacek

      Good point. And don’t forget that in most cases (certainly not all) blacks are victimizing other blacks. That’s almost always the case when it comes to murder. Most black men who commit murder are killing other black men. Here in Chicago, it’s nothing short of a genocide being perperated by young black men against other black men. Yet not a peep from the so-called black leaders. Yet when a white Chicago police officer kills a black gang-banger…the Sharpton’s, the Jackson’s and others are ready to riot. What a farce!

  • 19below

    Six different organizations at 1 university that all define themselves by specific racial identification all have a problem with racial identification in crime reports? One would have to get up very early in the morning and work very hard to be more hypocritical than that.

    As inclusion of race in a crime report is an element of basic physical description, it would follow these groups would equally demand that sex, height, weight, hair style and clothing removed from the descriptions.

    If these individuals mothers went missing, would they demand that the missing persons report also exclude a basic physical description including race as well?

    This type of convenient, circumstantial logic is ridiculous.

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