Student organizations call on AU to end all relations with the Metropolitan Police Department

AU NAACP, BSU and AU Democrats release formal statements

Student organizations call on AU to end all relations with the Metropolitan Police Department
A few students were still on campus on March 20.

Update: The original version of this article included a statement from Brooke Frischer that did not include the end of a quote about how black Americans have told people for years to support them. The end of her statement was paraphrased in the updated article.

Three days following George Floyd’s death, after a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes in Minneapolis, almost three of which Floyd wasn’t responding, the American University NAACP released a statement asking the University to end relations with the Metropolitan Police Department. 

“We are calling on American University to use its institutional power by following in the footsteps of the University of Minnesota and ending our University’s relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department,” the statement said.

According to the statement, this call to action was inspired by the recent deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and many others at the hands of police officers. AU NAACP said it is not releasing any media statements at this time.

Shortly after Floyd’s death, University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced the university is highly limiting their relations with the Minneapolis Police Department. 

In her statement, Gabel said that the university has “a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor” those affected by police brutality. This came after the university’s Student Association demanded that action be taken. 

The AU Black Student Union published a collective statement with the Black Student Unions of the District of Columbia Universities. It included a list of demands that requested reducing the number of youth arrests and requiring all MPD officers to undergo unconscious bias and de-escalation training. 

AU BSU declined to comment. 

AU Democrats also declared their support for the separation between the University and MPD. 

“We cannot pretend that police officers are subject to the same laws as the citizens they are supposed to be protecting,” the statement said. “Our country should not pick and choose who we hold accountable under the law, especially when it comes to vicious crimes, such as murder.” 

AU Dems spokesperson Brooke Frischer said she is an ally for black people and the organization recognizes the violence that has recently occurred.

“We know that we have a duty [as a predominantly white organization] to call out injustices,” Frischer said. “We don’t want to be the people constantly asking black people how to support them when we know how to support them.” 

That's because black people have told others for years how to support them, Frischer said.

AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess detailed what a separation might mean. AUPD predominantly resolves on-campus issues, making MPD, in many cases, nonessential. 

“AUPD rarely needs assistance from MPD,” Burgess said. “In one case, the department took proactive action steps to actively reduce MPD presence on campus by working with the Counseling Center to change protocols.” 

Burgess said that university police departments in D.C. rely on memorandum of understandings, which are supervised by the MPD. This allows access to writing reports, sharing information and conducting background checks. 

“These licensing, commissions and connectivity to law enforcement networks are critical to our mission of serving our AU community,” Burgess said. “Severing our relationship with MPD would require a change in D.C. regulations.”

smattalian@theeagleonline.com

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