MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — University of Minnesota students rallied Sunday afternoon in a call for the defunding of campus police.

Rally organizers envision the creation of a civilian accountability board, which would hire and fire University of Minnesota police officers, and determine the department’s budget.

Junior Jaelah Lymon says they would like to take money from the department and put it into mental health and victim resources. They also want to disarm officers.

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“[Officers] would still be able to have a reserve in the event of a school shooting, but they would not have it on their everyday body,” Lymon said.

She says student activists had brief meetings with university president Joan Gabel, but didn’t feel like they were taken very seriously.

“She has not responded to any of our demands directly. She has not used the term “Black” or “racism” in any of her of her dialogue. She’s used a lot of coded language, so we feel like overall we just need to show her we have a lot of people on our side who are also seeing the thing that she’s doing, and she needs accountability for like what the situation is and the fact that it is affecting Black students specifically,” Lymon said.

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Not all U of M students are on board with these student activists. Shonal Gangopadhyay says the police are absolutely necessary.

“We have public transport right here that can get anyone to and from different parts of Minneapolis within a few minutes, and if that’s not patrolled well, then that opens up a lot of unsafe stuff around this area,” Gangopadhyay said.

According to the university’s crime log, 68 crimes have been reported on campus since May 14. Seven of them were violent, including four assaults and one murder. There have also been multiple robberies and attempted kidnappings this year.

“Taking away money that they need to keep the students safe is not what I would like,” Gangopadhyay said.

Some Black student protestors said the police don’t make them feel safe.

The university didn’t return WCCO’s requests for a comment Sunday.

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David Schuman

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