Minneapolis, MN – The chief financial officer of the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) encouraged students need to “disrupt” University of Minnesota (UM) police and make life “hell” for them.
She also seemed to suggest students should call in fake crimes and requests for service to take up more of the officers’ time.
“When you say disrupt [the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD)], what exactly do you mean by that?” Ranking At-Large Representative Andy Knuppel asked MSA Chief Financial Officer Lauren Meyers during an MSA Executive Board meeting on April 14, according to Alpha News.
“Make their lives hell,” Meyers quickly answered. “Annoy s—t outta them…Like, use up their resources. Make their officers show up to something.”
Meyers made the comments as the board was discussing a letter the student government had sent to UM President Joan Gabel demanding UMPD Chief Matt Clark be forced to resign, Alpha News reported.
The group accused Chief Clark of allowing “the utilization of UMPD as a physical arm of the oppressive state to subjugate and silence community members both on and off campus,” and claimed he has “failed to act on…countless accusations of discrimination.”
The student government threatened “direct actions” in the event their “demands are not met,” according to Alpha News.
A UM spokesperson told the news outlet the university respects the autonomy of the MSA “as an independent governance organization for undergraduate students, including the autonomy of its membership to speak freely,” but said it “unequivocally disagrees with the ideas expressed about disrupting UMPD’s daily work.”
“These ideas are illegal and would directly conflict with ongoing efforts to keep our campus community safe,” the university spokesperson noted.
Here it is. We received a copy of the video that was deleted from Reddit.#UMN Student Association Rep Lauren Meyers advocates disrupting #UMPD police to "make their lives hell, annoy the sh*t out of them, use up their resources, make their officers show up to something." #MN pic.twitter.com/DxQD4b0aDE
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) April 27, 2021
The Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) released a joint statement on April 27 regarding the “direct action” threats and Meyers’ comments.
The unions denounced Meyers’ suggestions as “repulsive and dangerous,” and reminded citizens that reporting a false emergency or crime that winds up resulting in death or serious injury is a felony offense punishable by up to a decade in prison and a $20,000 fine.
“Actively planning to thwart UMPD by generating false calls for help is insulting to the overwhelming majority of the campus community that rely on public safety services,” MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters said in the joint statement. “MSA leaders should be ashamed – and apologize to the campus community and victims of crime on campus.”
Peters said UMPD handled 52 burglaries, 13 aggravated assaults, four sexual assaults, a murder, 22 car thefts, and numerous other thefts on or near campus in the past month alone.
“We’re frustrated that elected student leaders would purposefully choose to stir further division to make the campus less safe,” he said.
LELS Executive Director Jim Mortenson, who heads the union that represents UMPD, said that the university’s police force is there to protect and serve everyone.
“Everyone deserves to be safe, and advocating to impede police from assisting victims of crime is mindboggling,” Mortenson said. “Public safety officials and the University of Minnesota Police Department exist to protect and serve the community and work hard to earn community and campus support. MSA’s actions are damaging and don’t represent the desire for those on campus who wish for safety and security.”
The unions asked Meyers to apologize to the UMPD for her “unethical misconduct” and her statements, and called for the university and an outside agency to conduct investigations into the incident.
Footage of the MSA Executive Board Meeting was mysteriously deleted, but a clip including Meyers’ comments has been shared widely online, FOX News reported.
The National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) denounced Meyers’ comments in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“THIS will certainly help the strengthen the relationship between the community and police officers…” the NFOP said. “We are out here every day bridging the gap and opportunists on the other side are tearing it down.”
Knuppel and fellow MSA member Morgan McElroy released a joint statement calling on their “fellow student leaders” to denounce Meyers’ comments, according to Alpha News.
“To achieve any progress on critical campus issues such as police reform and campus safety, elected student leaders should strive to engage with administrators and campus law enforcement collaboratively,” Knuppel and McElroy said. “The public comments made by our colleague, unintended or otherwise, have cast a dark shadow on what should be a constructive dialogue among elected student government leaders, the student body, administration, and other stakeholders.”
They further noted that deleting the meeting footage is a “direct violation” of the MSA Executive Board’s “transparency” resolution, Alpha News reported.