Whose Diversity? organizer criticizes cops, U of M officials for arresting demonstrators

Around 7:30 p.m. yesterday, 13 demonstrators from the Whose Diversity? student group were arrested, bringing an end to an 8-hour occupation of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler's Morrill Hall office.

The students were booked into Hennepin County Jail on trespassing charges and banned from entering Morrill Hall for a year.

Demonstrators occupied Kaler's office in hopes he'd commit to meeting eight demands, including increased funding and support for the Chicano and Latino Studies Department and removing descriptions of race and complexion from U of M Police Department crime alerts.

But instead of satisfying their requests, Kaler wrote to demonstrators and offered non-committal explanations of where the administration is at with regard to each of the issues. (Read his explanations here.)

Reached for comment today, one of the demonstrators who was arrested, Joanna Núñez, says she's disappointed officials made the decision to arrest students instead of "continuing the conversation." She says demonstrators were prepared to stay in Morrill Hall overnight.

"It was a huge disappointment, seeing how the administration responded to our concerns, them only being willing to speak for a set amount of time... it's really sad to see that those conversations couldn't come to a way that was peaceful without having to arrest us," Núñez says. "They knew the reason why we were there is because we're not willing to accept business as usual. That they expected us to accept their explanations and not expect real change to happen is disappointing."

But Núñez says there's a silver lining.

"It was successful in the sense that the U of M is being exposed for the conditions that there are on campus, and that the voices ot students are being listened to by the media."

Organizations such as Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, MPIRG, and Black Lives Matter Minneapolis helped Whose Diversity? crowdfund the money demonstrators needed to post bail early this morning. The "U of M 13" are due in court on February 24 at 8:30 a.m. 

-- Image credit: @colocha_rachel

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