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President's Message

Dear University of Maryland community,

As you may know, last Saturday at 1:46 AM the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) received a 911 call about a loud party and a possible fight in progress inside an apartment at The Courtyards complex.

UMPD dispatched two officers. At the parking lot, some individuals flagged the arriving officers of a fight in the apartment. The person who opened the door denied there was any fight. The officers asked the large crowd in the apartment to end the party and leave. Eventually, more officers arrived. The police used pepper spray twice, in an outdoor corridor and in the parking lot. Two individuals (one a UMD student) were arrested for disorderly conduct. Subsequently, both were released on their own recognizance.

The party attendees were primarily African-American students. This incident has sparked an outcry, with claims of bias by the responding officers.

UMPD policy requires an administrative review after any use of force. I have asked UMPD Chief David Mitchell for an investigation that is as comprehensive, transparent, and expedited as possible. This review is already underway. Investigators are examining more than five hours of video from the body cameras worn by all the officers at the scene. They are interviewing all the officers involved. Detectives are reviewing the initial complaints and interviewing witnesses.

The investigation focuses on whether the actions of the officers, including the use of pepper spray, was appropriate in this situation. There is no further investigation by UMPD of any UMD student who attended the party. The entire investigation may take a few weeks to complete. When completed, the findings and the video and audio evidence will be made public.

This incident compels us to confront the reality that African-Americans, and other persons of color, experience bias and unequal treatment in everyday life.  Members of my staff have met with some of the students who were at the party. These students shared their anguish, anger, fear, and trauma. Many others reached out to me on social media. To all affected by this incident, I hear you. I may not be able to respond to each of you individually, but please continue to share with me your thoughts and concerns.  

Diversity is essential to the mission of our University. It is a matter of enormous pride for me. However, when some members of our community are hurting and feeling vulnerable, the entire University community suffers.

We must ask difficult questions of ourselves as our nation continues its journey to form a more just and inclusive union. This past semester, the University held nearly 100 Maryland Dialogues events to confront issues of race and racism. I am pleased that campus leaders, including Chief Mitchell, are engaged in conversations with students affected by this incident.

I ask that we all continue working together to create a campus culture of inclusive excellence, where everyone feels a sense of belonging and security, and is valued, trusted, and respected.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh
President