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Loyola University Chicago to host Minneapolis city council member who supported dismantling police

Later reversed support for police defunding after crime problems

Loyola University Chicago will host a transgender city council member who voted to defund the Minneapolis Police Department of at least $9 million and supported a referendum to dismantle it.

The university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is teaming up with student activist groups to host Andrea Jenkins (right), the vice-president of the Minneapolis City Council, for a discussion this Thursday via Zoom.

“Join us for a conversation with Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins about social justice, civic engagement and being a leader in her community,” a flyer for the event said.

The College Fix reached out to Jenkins for further information on what the city council member planned to talk about during the discussion. Jenkins did not respond to two emailed requests for comment in the past two weeks.

The Fix asked if the university paid Jenkins for the discussion. The Fix also asked Jenkins to explain the two different votes on police defunding and the city council member’s current position on police abolition.

Jenkins changes position on police defunding

Jenkins participated heavily in supporting a movement to defund and dismantle the Minneapolis police department in the wake of the controversial killing of George Floyd on May 25.

Nine city council members, enough to override a mayoral veto, voiced support for dismantling the police department at a rally several weeks after the killing, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

In June, the city council supported a measure that would change the mandate of the police department in a way that could lead to disarming the police and shifting toward a social services approach.

The Washington Examiner reported:

The charter would amend language that mandates a police department. The proposed changes to the city’s charter would replace it with ‘a department of community safety and violence prevention’ that would take ‘a holistic, public-health-oriented approach.’

A referendum for residents to vote on in November 2020 never made it to the ballot after the Minneapolis Charter Commission in July rejected the language change and the possible vote on the matter, according to CBS Minnesota.

In December, seven city council members voted for a budget that redirected $8 million in police funding to mental health and social services programs.

The budget would not decrease the projected number of police officers for the coming years, the Star Tribune reported.

“The reality right now is that [Minneapolis Police] Chief Arradondo is woefully understaffed for a variety of reasons,” Jenkins said, in explaining the reversal of a previous vote when the city council’s vice president voted to reduce police staffing levels.

Jenkins explained further:

Do I believe that this effort will resolve all of our problems, all of our crime issues overnight? Absolutely not. Neither will all of the social service programs and initiatives. It’s going to take all of these things together to lower the crime rate.

City council members, many of whom supported defunding measures, had criticized the police department for a perceived lack of presence and patrolling.

Gender studies, anti-cop student group behind the event

Shay Collins, the university’s diversity director, will moderate the discussion. Student groups including Our Streets LUC, The Feminist Forum and White Coats for Black Lives are sponsoring the event.

The Catholic university’s College of Arts and Sciences and its Women’s Studies and Gender Studies department are also supporting the event.

Betsy Jones Hemenway, the gender studies program’s director, did not respond to two emailed requests for comment in the past two weeks. The Fix asked Hemenway what issues Jenkins will discuss and if the Minneapolis politician would be paid for speaking at Loyola.

One of the main sponsors of this event is Our Streets LUC, a student activist group that said the university needs to do more to support black students.

“This is a call to action to the administration of Loyola University Chicago to finally acknowledge that Black Lives Matter and to listen to the voices of Black students,” the group said on its website, introducing a list of its demands.

Our Streets has been active in pushing for the university to cut ties with the Chicago Police Department, although Loyola officials have rejected this request.

The student group did not respond to requests for comment sent via Instagram messaging in the past several days.

The Fix asked the group what it thought of Jenkins reversing support for dismantling the police and what issues the group wanted Jenkins to discuss.

MORE: University of Michigan announces new ‘George Floyd Memorial Scholarship

IMAGES: Minneapolis City Council; Our Streets LUC/Instagram

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Cade Maynard - Western Wyoming Community College