You are on page 1of 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

13 STUDENT ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT UMN DURING PEACEFUL
DEMONSTRATION
Minneapolis, MN, February 10, 2015 -- Yesterday, February 9th, 2015, at
about 11:45 AM, sixteen student activists of the collective Whose Diversity?
held a peaceful sit-in in the office of University of Minnesota President Eric
Kaler. The students had eight demands they planned on discussing with
President Kaler, all of which were based on marginalized students’
experiences and community recommendations. Some of the demands
include increased funding and support for the historic U of M Chicano and
Latino Studies Department and removing descriptions of race and
complexion from University of Minnesota Police Department crime alerts.
When asked why the students chose to sit in, Whose Diversity? organizer Tori
Hong stated, “Our actions are politically and conscientiously in line with our
predecessors. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists used
peaceful sit-ins, marches, and direct actions as a method for social change.”
Contradicting the University’s Public Statement, texts and tweets from the
demonstrators revealed that students were physically and verbally harassed
by the police officers for two hours before President Kaler and other
administrators met with them. One student reported, “The police are
mocking us” and that an officer said, “Just because I have a weapon doesn’t
mean that I have power over you.” This took place after multiple students
were forced to the ground by police. Reports from students in the building
also stated that police denied bathroom access and prevented
demonstrators from offering food to one another.
At approximately 3:30 PM, after hours of working in a private office, President
Kaler, Provost Karen Hanson and U of M administrative staff issued printed
responses to each of the demands. The responses did not include an
agreement to immediately implement any demand, and were interpreted by
the activists as neither directly supporting nor refuting the demands. The
students, divided by police into two rooms, began to work on addressing
these concerns in writing but were slowed due to internet connectivity
problems and the impossibility for the separated members of the collective
to communicate across police officers blocking the doorway. President Kaler
and Provost Hanson left the office before students could respond.
The student activists were given three warnings, with the second warning
including the option for activists to accept a citation or be arrested. Three of
the activists left the office because they could not risk arrest. Thirteen of the
activists remained, waiting for a commitment from President Kaler to meet
the eight demands they brought in or for force to be used by the police.

These thirteen student activists were arrested by Minnesota State Troopers
at around 7:30 PM, while a crowd of supporters witnessed and chanted,
“Whose university? Our university!”
The thirteen student activists were detained in the Hennepin County Jail.
They were kept there until February 10th, 2015, at 4:37 AM. The students
were charged with trespassing, and banned from entering Morrill Hall for one
year. The court date is set for February 24th at 8:30 AM. Through Twitter and
Facebook, Whose Diversity? was able to crowdsource a bail fund for the
student activists. This occurred with the support of organizations such as
Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, MPIRG, and Black Lives Matter
Minneapolis.
On February 9th, 2015, at 2:00 AM, an email addressing the sit-in was sent
from President Kaler, who wrote, “The issues Whose Diversity? raises are
critically important ones. Leaders across campus and I are committed to
creating a community that welcomes and embraces all experiences and
perspectives.”
Before President Kaler’s email was released, Whose Diversity? had already
included its own statement about the arrests on its Pay It Square fundraising
page: “President Kaler claims that he's committed to diversity, but he is
more than happy to send black and brown students to the Hennepin County
Jail. This sends a strong message about where his priorities lie.”
For more information view the collective’s website
(www.whosediversity.weebly.com) and Twitter (@WhoseDiv).