University student leader decried after urging peers to make life ‘hell’ for local police

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A University of Minnesota student who encouraged her fellow students to make the lives of campus police officers “hell” now faces the wrath of police officers throughout her state.

Lauren Meyers, an executive member of the school’s student association, had been speaking to her fellow executive board members on a teleconferencing call when she made the now-viral remarks.

She’d specifically been speaking about a letter that the association had sent school president Joan Gabel. In the letter, the students accused the campus police of being unconcerned about the “safety and wellness” of minority students and threatened “direct actions” if their demands weren’t met.

Video footage from the teleconferencing call shows Meyers being asked by a fellow member to clarify what was meant by “direct actions.”

In response, Meyers said the following: “Make their lives hell. Annoy the s–t out of them. I’m saying … use up their resources. Make their officers show up for something.”

By “them,” she meant University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) officers.

Watch:

The now-viral comments provoked widespread backlash from all across the state, including from Jim Mortenson, the executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, which is the specific union that reportedly represents UMPD officers, and Brian Peters, the executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

“Everyone deserves to be safe, and advocating to impede police from assisting victims of crime is mindboggling. Public safety officials and the University of Minnesota Police Department exist to protect and serve the community and work hard to earn community and campus support. MSA’s actions are damaging and don’t represent the desire for those on campus who wish for safety and security,” Mortenson said in a joint press release with Peters.

“Actively planning to thwart UMPD by generating false calls for help is insulting to the overwhelming majority of the campus community that rely on public safety services. MSA leaders should be ashamed – and apologize to the campus community and victims of crime on campus,” Peters added.

“Last month the campus community had 13 incidents of aggravated assault, 52 burglaries, 22 car thefts, 4 sexual assaults, numerous thefts, and a murder on or near campus. We’re frustrated that elected student leaders would purposefully choose to stir further division to make the campus less safe,” he continued.

The joint statement requests that Meyers apologize “for her statements and unethical misconduct,” the university “initiate an investigation” and that an “outside agency” conduct its own “CRIMINAL investigation … to determine if charges are warranted.”

One potential problem for Meyers is that when she told her peers to make campus police “show up for something,” it sounded as if she was encouraging them to commit crimes that would draw the authorities’ attention. That would obviously be illegal.

But it’d also be illegal for them to make false police reports. According to Minnesota law, anyone who “makes a call for emergency police, fire, medical, or ambulance service, knowing that no police, fire, or medical emergency exists” — or, worse, makes the call “with the intent to disrupt, interfere with, or reduce the provision of emergency services or the emergency call center’s resources” — would be guilty of committing a misdemeanor offense, at minimum.

View a copy of the relevant law below, or access it directly here.

Emergency Call Minnesota Law by V Saxena on Scribd

Even some campus officials have reportedly spoken out against Meyers.

“The University respects the autonomy of the Minnesota Student Association as an independent governance organization for undergraduate students, including the autonomy of its membership to speak freely. However, in this instance, the University unequivocally disagrees with the ideas expressed about disrupting UMPD’s daily work,” a university representative said in a statement to Alpha News, the site that originally broke the story.

These ideas are illegal and would directly conflict with ongoing efforts to keep our campus community safe,” the rep added.

In an update published Thursday, the site revealed that two of Meyers’ peers have also spoken out.

“We call upon our fellow student leaders who have stayed silent over the last 72 hours to denounce the comments made in the clip that’s been widely circulating in the media,” board members Knuppel and McElroy said in a joint statement.

“To achieve any progress on critical campus issues such as police reform and campus safety, elected student leaders should strive to engage with administrators and campus law enforcement collaboratively. The public comments made by our colleague, unintended or otherwise, have cast a dark shadow on what should be a constructive dialogue among elected student government leaders, the student body, administration, and other stakeholders,” they added.

As of Saturday afternoon, Meyers was still listed as a “staff member” of the Minnesota Student Association.

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Vivek Saxena

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