University of Minnesota student group to address policing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Student leaders at the University of Minnesota are setting up a team to address minority and LGBT issues in campus policing. 
 
The Minnesota Student Association is forming a student-led engagement team to facilitate discussions between the University of Minnesota Police Department and students. 
 
MSA President Trish Palermo told the Minnesota Daily that they're reaching out to communities that have expressed concerns with police relationships, including students of color and LGBT students. 
 
Palermo said she reached out to sophomore Michelle Abdon, who started the hashtag #UMPDListen campaign on Facebook. Abdon said she started the campaign after a personal experience with the police department. She uses the page to share other students' experiences. 
 
"A lot of the stories that I've heard usually pertain to mental health. Another one was being misgendered," Abdon said. "There have been a lot of stories, but the ones that have been consistent have been about mental health calls and how they've handled it or escalated it too far to where it became overwhelming for the student." 
 
Abdon joined the team and said she hopes its representative of the entire student body, including often underrepresented groups. 
 
Palermo said the team is establishing an action plan with UMPD Chief Matt Clark, and it'll launch in February. Palermo said the team will help improve communication because it'll serve as an outlet for students to voice concerns to Clark and the police department. It can also advise UMPD on responding to campus protests or controversial speakers. 
 
"At the end of the day, students just want UMPD to protect all students," Palermo said. "They want to feel safe on campus. I think strengthening the relationship with UMPD and student groups starts with the conversation of what both ends can do to improve."

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