|Fragile Black Egos: Sure, blacks commit all the crime at the University of Minnesota, but the real crime is daring to notice this fact.|
School officials at the University of Minnesota are working with black student and facility organizations after they wrote a letter to the school’s president about the racial descriptions given in crime alerts.
The letter, sent on Dec. 6, 2013, was issued by 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.
It was directed to University President Eric Kaler and Pamela Wheelock, the vice president of University Services.
Students and staff mailed the letter more than a month after the campus went on lockdown because of an attempted robbery at Anderson Hall on Nov. 11, 2013.
University of Minnesota Police wrongfully identified a student as the suspect.
On Tuesday, school officials reported there have been 25 robberies in and around the University, an increase of 27 percent over the last few years.
The organizations wrote that while campus safety is crucial, the profiling can be devastating for black male students.
Black students at the University of Minnesota say racial descriptions in crime alerts does not help catch suspects. Instead, it's hurting black male students.
There have been more than two dozen crimes on or near the U this year.
Crime alert after crime alert describes many of the suspects as young black males.
"There are a plethora of young black men on campus who fit that description," Abdel-Kader Toovi, a college senior and vice president of the Black Men's Forum on campus, said.
Ian Taylor, a junior and president of the Black Men's Forum, said many of their members have expressed concern over how other students treat them.
"You might walk a certain side of the street and someone might walk the other way or the other direction…just this feeling that people feel unsafe around you," Taylor said.
The racial descriptions are leading to racial profiling, according to Amber Jones, president of the U's Black Student Union.
"When a crime alert comes in everyone's like crime alert…there's another crime alert. Let him not be a black person again," Jones said.
When Chisom Esele walks around the University of Minnesota campus at night, people sometimes get nervous, walk faster or cross the street when they see him coming.
“I feel like when you’re black and you’re walking on the street at night, you’re kind of viewed [in a certain way],” the electrical engineering junior said. “I kind of understand, but at the end of the day, when this kind of stuff happens to me … it affects the way I feel.”
With the recent string of crime alerts emailed to University students, faculty and staff, the black community has an additional safety concern: racial profiling.
All but two of the 19 crimes in alerts sent this semester have described one or more young, black males as suspects. The other two didn’t include race descriptions.
“The problem is that it’s not descriptive enough to say who they’re actually looking for, because a black male in their 20s is me, and I’m a professional staff member here,” said Black Faculty and Staff Association logistics and technology coordinator Delonte LeFlore.
Black faculty, staff and students across the University are working with police, administrators and the campus community to address the growing safety issue. They say they are worried about racial profiling by police, racial fear in the community and the potential for the situation to escalate into racially based violence.