The University of Minnesota’s president made a bold move by changing the school’s relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd.
President Joan Gabel issued a letter to students, faculty and staff stating that the Minneapolis Police Department will no longer be used to assist at major events, including Gophers basketball and football events, which hold more than a combined 60,000 people.
“Our hearts are broken after watching the appalling video capturing the actions of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers against George Floyd leading to his tragic death," Gabel said in the letter. "As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken. I do not have the words to fully express my pain and anger and I know that many in our community share those feelings, but also fear for their own safety. This will not stand.”
Floyd, 46, died in police custody after officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes. Floyd was captured on video saying “I can’t breathe” and gasping for air before his death. The four officers on the scene were fired for their involvement. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for the arrest of the officers.
“I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Frey said in a press conference. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. And I cannot come up with a good answer to that.”
African-American’s make up nearly half of the Gophers’ football roster. Some of those players may not feel protected by MPD after watching Floyd’s death. Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman,one of the top returning players in the Big Ten, said in part of a Twitter post, “I never thought in a million years I would be scared to walk outside.”
Minnesota’s campus is about five miles from where the incident occurred. Gabel has yet to issue a statement on how the university will ensure security and assist the campus police at large events going forward.
The 2020 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class is expected to be one of the best of all-time, but its induction ceremony will have to wait. The enshrinement ceremonies for the class of 2020 have been postponed to next year.
The weekend was originally scheduled for Aug. 28-30, but Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of governors, said the idea was “just not feasible.”
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are the headliners of the class. WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings and Baylor’s women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey are among other notable names.