Positively 4th Street, Univ. of MN style

George Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020. Two days later University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced to great fanfare that she was restricting the university’s ties with the Minneapolis police.

In an email message to the university community Gabel said she was telling her staff no longer to contract with Minneapolis police “for additional law enforcement support needed for large events, such as football games, concerts, and ceremonies.” In addition, she told the University’s Police Department no longer to use the Minneapolis police for specialized services like K-9 explosive detection units.

“We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them,” Gabel said in the message. “We 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.” According to the message, the order was effective immediately.

“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. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are with the loved ones and friends of George Floyd,” Gabel said in the message.

As she stuck her knife in the back of the Minneapolis police, Gabel’s announcement received national coverage. Among national outlets that took notice were the Washington Post, Time, Huffpost, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN.

This past Friday night, just before midnight, five people were shot and wounded in the Dinkytown neighborhood that abuts the university’s Minneapolis campus. Dinkytown is a mixed use commercial/residential university oriented neighborhood. Here is a good description.

The shooting took place near the corner of SE 14th Avenue and 4th Street in Dinkytown, one block off the university campus proper. The map below situates the intersection.

Three of the shooting victims were University of Minnesota students. An ambulance took all five to hospitals. The suspect remains at large.

It was only “the latest incident in a spring full of violent crime near the University of Minnesota,” as the Star Tribune put it in its story on Saturday.

Yesterday Gabel sent out another email message to the university community, this one responding to the Friday midnight shooting (her message includes the links below):

Office of the President

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

I write to you in shared frustration and concern over the significant increase in crime in the City of Minneapolis and in how it has impacted our campus community. Our city is not immune to public safety challenges, as crime is up in many cities nationwide. We should, nonetheless, be able to feel safe in the neighborhoods and areas surrounding our Twin Cities campus, even though they are not a part of the University’s jurisdiction. It is important to note that Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers patrol many of these nearby neighborhoods and are assisted by the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD).

Shortly after midnight Saturday morning, a SAFE-U notification was sent to our campus community due to a shooting off campus in Dinkytown (near the corner of 14th Avenue SE and 4th Street SE). Details from the incident and an ongoing MPD investigation are still emerging as you may have read in recent reporting. Three UMN students were injured, fortunately none critically. Our thoughts and support go out to those impacted, and as we await the outcome of the investigation, we know we must do more to address crime in the surrounding neighborhoods.

We have spent the weekend coordinating with the City of Minneapolis and the MPD. Effective immediately:

• MPD officers will be much more present and visible during the late night hours.
• UMPD will assign additional officers, on overtime, to Dinkytown and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.
• The UMPD and MPD will be installing mobile cameras in Dinkytown and in the immediate areas.

In the longer term, we will do the following:

• Throughout the summer, UMPD officers will utilize additional bicycle and vehicle patrols in Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes.
• We will analyze where to install additional cameras in strategic locations for real-time monitoring.
• We will examine installing additional “Blue Light” emergency response kiosks in the Dinkytown area.
• In coordination with the City of Minneapolis, we will seek additional street lighting in Dinkytown.
• We will evaluate the formation of a dedicated safety ambassador program to provide a visible, on-the-street presence in Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes.

With an increase in crime and with incidents like Saturday morning’s so close to campus, we understand that students, faculty, and staff may be feeling increased anxiety. Please remember that we have resources and information available to help you at all times.

Student mental health resources
Faculty and staff mental health resources

In the past, I’ve shared with you the commitments we have made and the ongoing work we are engaged in to better ensure safety throughout our community, and we continue to consider solutions through that lens. I will share more detail about the University’s broader engagement in Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes in the coming days, which will include work with the City of Minneapolis, community groups, property owners, and businesses to explore, initiate, and maintain a wide range of safety initiatives to create a safe community for all. Mindful of the recent work of the independent expert with whom we partnered, Dr. Alexander, safety is not accomplished solely through an increased presence of law enforcement. We will also rely on initiatives such as safety ambassadors, increased monitored cameras, increased lighting, the use of the Rave application, and other solutions that have been proven successful in similar areas, both regionally and nationally. Our work in response to his recommendations continues now more than ever.

As your President—and also as the mother of a college student—I want you to know that the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is the highest priority for me. In coordination with Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans and University of Minnesota Police Department Chief Matt Clark, we are working around the clock to ensure that every member of our University family feels safe and supported in every sense of those words, even amidst these alarming incidents and trends.

Minneapolis is an exceptional city with tremendous access to professional opportunities with global companies, to world-class arts and theater, to top-tier collegiate and professional sports, to amazing restaurants, to nationally recognized parks and trail systems, and so much more. We understand that with all that our city provides, including the impact of our world-class institution within this vibrant metropolitan region, we all must be safe to live, learn, work, and serve.

We will keep you informed of additional steps.

With best regards,

Joan Gabel

Ignore the blah blah blah element of Gabel’s current message. Note Gabel’s silence about her message of May 27, 2020.

From the point of view of the Minneapolis police, this series of events must recall something of the rage that fills Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street.” (Dylan lived in Dinkytown during his brief time as a University of Minnesota student.) I am quite sure officers would like to let Gabel know: “I wish that for just one time / You could stand inside my shoes / And just for that one moment / I could be you / Yes, I wish that for just one time / You could stand inside my shoes / You’d know what a drag it is / To see you.”

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