Minnesota Orchestra breaks with Minneapolis Police, ‘will no longer use for concert security’

8 June 2020, 15:11 | Updated: 9 June 2020, 19:38

Minnesota Orchestra
Minnesota Orchestra. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The US orchestra takes a stand against police brutality in its state, following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer.

The Minnesota Orchestra has broken ties with Minneapolis Police (MPD), pledging to “no longer engage MPD officers to provide security at Orchestra concerts”.

The orchestra said its relationship with the MPD will remain broken until the department “implements fundamental changes” following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis Police officer.

Officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, has been charged for his death. A lawyer for the Floyd family has since accused Chauvin of premeditated murder.

The ensemble said in a tweet: “The Minnesota Orchestra acknowledges that there is more for us to hear and more for us to do in advancing the change that must happen to make our community more equitable and just.”

Read more: Austin Symphony sacks trombonist following racist comments >

Music director Osmo Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra
Music director Osmo Vänskä leads the Minnesota Orchestra. Picture: Getty

It continued: “The killing of George Floyd marks a turning point for our organisation, and we join with other community members in calling for transformational changes in the MPD. We join with the Twin Cities Musicians Union in calling for the resignation of the president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, Bob Kroll.”

Kroll, a union chief who represents over 800 officers in Minneapolis, described Floyd as a ‘violent criminal’ and has resisted any reform of a department with a history of racial abuse.

The orchestra, which plays at Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall, said after restructuring its security staff, it will no longer need to rely on MPD officers for security at concerts. They added, as a caveat: “Where government regulations mandate a police presence, we will continue to comply”.

Read more: Osmo Vänskä breaks down after final Minnesota Orchestra concert >

The Minnesota Orchestra is just the latest organisation to break ties with the MPD; Minneapolis state schools, as well as the city’s parks, made the same move last week. Jenny Arneson, the vice chair of the Minneapolis Board of Education, said: “Minneapolis police, individual officers, and the city have work to do. And until they demonstrate the have done that work, we need to separate our relationship.”

The Minnesota Orchestra ended the Twitter thread by saying it will work to combat its own “white privilege” and “disrupt our own role in system racism”.

Violist Sam Bergman, who is part of the internal team working on a racial equity plan, tweeted about the changes, saying: “There’s a lot of debate surrounding what positive change and a less racist system would even look like in classical music, and I don’t have answers.

“I know that I’m tired of the way things have been, and I know that black and brown musicians have been ****ing exhausted forever.

“We’re years behind where we need to be, but it has to start somewhere, and we’re starting.”