Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and the Law Enforcement Labor Services has taken the odd (if not unprecedented) step of requesting the University of Minnesota to investigate a student for her phone to make the lives of campus police a dwelling”hell.”
The videoconference followed a decision from student leaders to deliver a letter to University of Minnesota administration requiring the resignation of the Chief of Police of the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD). The letter threatens”direct action” when”our demands aren’t met.”
Here is the crucial exchange:
UofM Position At-Large Representative Andy Knuppel: You say disrupt UMPD. What exactly do you mean ?”
Meyers:”Create their lives hell.”
Meyers:”Annoy the shit from these”
Meyers:”I am saying, what are they over? I really don’t know Amy would you understand? Morgan, you mentioned things with UMPD. [End ] Just like, use up their tools. Make their officers show up to something. Um.”
The police organizations are alleging the potential violation of law. Specifically, they mention daddy 609.78 (shown below) on coping with the emergency phone calls and communications of both police departments. That provision contains these offenses as”plac[ing] an emergency call and reports that a fictitious emergency with the intent of prompting an emergency response by law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services personnel.”
Moreover, the call to tie up campus police could lead to harm to other pupils who might discover the police unable to respond quickly to actual crimes or threats on campus.
The college rules of conduct for pupils prohibits:
Subd. 8. A student or student group aids or abets prohibited conduct when the student or student group: (a) helps every other person engage in misconduct as defined by the Student Conduct Code; and (b) intends the misconduct to occur or understands that their activities are likely to aid another person to engage in the misconduct.
As will come as no surprise to many on this blog, I would oppose any criminal charge for Meyers who’s engaged in political language. She did not actually interfere with police calls or engage in this criminal conduct directly. I think that the First Amendment must protect these speech, though it is offensive and reckless.
Furthermore, I would oppose any expulsion or suspension for Meyers for these remarks. I think however that the college as an obligation to respond, such as the issuing of an official reprimand since Meyers had been phoning for harassment within her official capacity. Her call could undermine both officers along with other pupils. This type of transgression merit a response but also another chance for Meyers to reveal increased maturity and conclusion. College students frequently make dumb mistakes, particularly when trapped in the passions of protests or societal causes. They can learn from these errors and universities must seek to work with such pupils.
My greatest concern is the different treatment afforded pupils dependent on the material of these statements. I don’t anticipate Meyers to be relegated. Yet, there’s a need for a clear and proper answer from the college on this dangerous declaration. Honestly I am not sure that the university would be circumspect in cases where such reckless language is aimed at others groups or causes. The vital security for free speech is that a glowing field of security that’s very clear and most importantly consistent.
The college issued a rather heated announcement , while noting that Meyers may be calling for criminal acts, did not include any indication of a reprimand or other formal sanction:
“The University respects the freedom of the Minnesota Student Association as an independent governance organization for undergraduate students, for example, autonomy of its membership to talk freely. Nonetheless, in this example, the University unequivocally disagrees with all the thoughts expressed about disrupting UMPD’s everyday work. These ideas are prohibited and would directly conflict with ongoing efforts to maintain our campus community safe.”
This is a bit more than the usual”debate” when a student leader is advocating criminal acts as a way to harass campus police and ensure it is difficult for them to react to calls. At a minimum, the faculty should prove that calling such harassment is a breach of the student code and that such conduct will not be tolerated in any student, such as Meyers. My greatest concern is that, without such emotion in the college, some students might actually attempt to interfere with the police and trigger a criminal investigation. It is not the”thoughts” that are prohibited but activities that should be fully explained by the university as notice for this and other pupils.
Here is the underlying criminal provision:
Subdivision 1. Misdemeanor offenses.
Whoever does another is guilty of a misdemeanor:
(4) creates a call for emergency police, fire, health care, or ambulance assistance, knowing that no police, fire, or medical emergency exists;
(6) constitutes or initiates an emergency call, knowing that no crisis exists, and the intent to disrupt, interfere with, or reduce the provision of emergency services or the emergency call center’s resources, remains silent, or makes violent or harassing statements into the call recipient.
Subd. 2. Gross misdemeanor crimes.
Whoever does another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor:
(1) intentionally interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or interferes with an emergency call or that intentionally prevents or hinders another from putting an emergency call, and that whose conduct doesn’t lead to a breach of section 609.498;
(2) places an emergency call and then reports a fictitious emergency with the intent of prompting an emergency response by law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services personnel; or even
(3) violates subdivision 1, clause (6), after having been previously convicted or adjudicated delinquent for violating this clause.
Subd. 2a. Felony crime; coverage fictitious emergency leading to serious harm.
Whoever violates subdivision 2, clause (2), is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for more than ten years or to payment of a fine of more than $20,000, or both, in the event the call triggers an emergency response and, as a result of the response, somebody suffers great bodily harm or death.
Subd. 2b. Other juvenile crimes.
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