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13 arrested after sit-in at U president's office

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Police at Morrill Hall
Thirteen demonstrators were taken into custody Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, after staging a sit-in at University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler's Morrill Hall office to complain that the university is not committed enough to diversity.
Riham Feshir / MPR News

Updated:  6:45 a.m. Feb. 10 | Posted: 4:35 p.m. Feb. 9

Thirteen demonstrators were taken into custody Monday night after staging a sit-in at University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler's Morrill Hall office to complain that the university is not committed enough to diversity.

The protest — organized by a group that calls itself "Whose Diversity?" — ended just before 8 p.m. Monday. A tweet from the Twitter account for Whose Diversity, @WhoseDiv, said all 13 were released by 4:37 a.m.

Activist Tanja Andic said protesters believe that the university merely gives lip service to the idea of diversity on campus. 

"They talk about investment in diversity," Andic said. "They talk about having it as something that benefits the university rather than something that is about basic ethics, and justice and serving everybody." 

A group of about 16 demonstrators entered Kaler's office around noon. Among their demands were increased staffing for the Department of Chicano and Latino studies and the end of racial descriptions of suspects in campus crime alerts.

Kaler met with the group during the protest. Police were also in the building, which was closed to the public for several hours.

According to a statement from the university, the protesters, most of them students, were taken into custody after multiple warnings that they would be arrested. The university says they were cited for trespassing and taken to Hennepin County Jail.

Police at Morrill Hall
Police at the University of Minnesota. Thirteen demonstrators were taken into custody Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, after staging a sit-in at University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler's Morrill Hall office to complain that the university is not committed enough to diversity.
Riham Feshir / MPR News

As the protesters were brought through the front door of Morrill Hall, about 30 people standing outside chanted, "This is our university." Some were students, while others were from the group Black Lives Matter. Others said they were alumni.

Recent U of M graduate Tori Hong, who helped organize the sit-in, says progress has been too slow.

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says that sometimes you have to go to direct action if negotiation doesn't work," Hong said. "We tried negotiation."

Protesters said their first court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 24 at the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility.