10/12/2006 Newsletter

Contents:

  • O22 Protest and Stolen Lives Memorial Event
  • Rybak Uses SWAT Team and Armed Guards to Avoid Meeting with the Community
  • Gordon Betrays Community, Becomes Deciding Vote for Dolan
  • Johnny Boyd Court Watch
  • Bob Heberle and Roger Cuthbertson Court Watch
  • Criticizing Cheney to His Face Is Assault?
  • Cop Suspended Over Corpses on MySpace Page--Files Appeal

OCTOBER 22 NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
October 22nd, the annual National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, is right around the corner and CUAPB is planning to mark the day with two big events.  In light of growing rates of police brutality and misconduct in the Twin Cities, we need to come together to stand up in a powerful way for police accountability and for justice for survivors of police brutality and family members of people killed by cops.  Join us!

10/21/06, 8:00 p.m.     
Hennepin County Jail (the new jail)
401 S 4th Avenue, Minneapolis
(Corner 4th Avenue and 5th Street)
Rally and tour of the criminal "injustice" system followed by downtown cop watch.  Dress warmly.  Noisemakers and bucket drums welcomed and encouraged.

10/22/06, 5:30 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis
Stolen Lives Memorial Ceremony to remember those who have lost their lives at the hands of local police forces.


RYBAK'S PARANOIA AND GORDON'S BETRAYAL

What does it say when the mayor is so afraid of the community that he comes to city council chambers with an armed guard?  What is going on when the only Green Party member on the city council casts the deciding vote in favor of the candidate for police chief that the community never had a role in selecting and that many so clearly reject?

The Paranoia
Wednesday was a day of strange bedfellows and even stranger behavior down at City Hall.  We had gotten word early on that Rybak had called out the cops to keep the local citizenry in line should any of us get the notion that city hall was a place for democracy.  So we weren't necessarily surprised to see the hallways swarming with cops.  However, it was a bit disconcerting to see SWAT team members decked out in full gear, ready to pounce if the slightest bit of free speech should leak out of anyone's mouth.  They marched down to council chambers in two lines like jack-booted tin soldiers and then lined the council chambers and surrounded both doors.  A few minutes later, Rybak entered the council chambers WITH AN ARMED GUARD--WE KID YOU NOT!  It is hard to imagine that the simple act of demanding that our mayor meet with us could evoke such a response.  Rybak's paranoia and phobic reaction toward the community is reaching Nixon-esque proportions.

The Betrayal
About the time we didn't think things could get weirder, Cam Gordon denounced Dolan but then became the deciding vote in moving his candidacy forward.  The rationale he gave had something to do with letting the full council vote.  Gordon is either incredibly naive, a complete phony, or he needs the rest of the council to give him political cover.  Once he's sure Dolan will pass anyway, that's when we might see a "no" vote out of Gordon--but we can't even be sure about that.  Green Party insiders say the real motivation is that Cam Gordon is afraid of pissing off the Democrats, lest he meet the same fate as Natalie Johnson Lee or Dean Zimmermann during the next election.  To think a guy like that would sell out the community just to protect his own skin--for shame!

In another of his vapid letters to the masses, Gordon rationalizes his behavior as some kind of "grassroots democracy."  Hogwash!  Grassroots democracy was large numbers of people showing up at city hall and demanding a meeting with OUR elected representatives BEFORE they voted--which the community never got.  Grassroots democracy is actually listening to your constituents--especially the ones who are most affected by the decision you are about to make.  Grassroots democracy is NOT advancing a candidate who came out of a patently UNdemocratic process to next level so that an elitist group with a whole host of agendas (other than the needs of the community) can vote to inflict said candidate on the now thoroughly disempowered community.  In his missive, Gordon advises the movement to demand more public hearings before the council vote.  What a joke--a subset of council members wouldn't even respect the community enough to hear us before they voted.  What would make him think this same council--who has carved the community out of this process every step of the way--would suddenly decide to give the community more input.  Not bloody likely, and a damned waste of time for the movement to push for.

Note to Cam: This is not just a situation in which people respectfully disagree.  This was the wholesale sell out of the community and no amount of rationalizing on your part can change it.  It's been sadly amazing to see how short a time it took you to cross over to the other side--first with the CRA stuff and now this.  Now that you're there, you might as well just stay there and stop pretending you give a crap about the community.  Actions speak louder than words.

We do need to say a few words about Robert Lilligren and Scott Benson, who abstained on the Dolan vote, giving Gordon the deciding vote.  Neither of these fellas has been reliable allies to the community on policing issues but we need to give them props for at least walking the walk.  "No" votes would have sent a stronger message but at least they addressed their concerns in a somewhat honest manner.  Neither of them proffered bull about "grassroots democracy" while stabbing the community in the heart.

What Happens Next?
Well, there is that public hearing on October 18th (9:30 a.m., room 317 of City Hall).  However, truth be told, now that Dolan has cleared the executive committee his appointment is nearly all but assured (geez thanks, Cam).  Nonetheless,  if you have the time, it might be a real hoot to slide on down to city hall to see how the council members on the PS&RS committee handle themselves during the hearing.  If it's like we've seen before, they will be talking on cell phones, walking in and out of the room, etc. in a show of complete disrespect for the community.  None of the members of that committee--Ostrow, Johnson, Hofstede, Gordon, Samuels, Schiff--have been reliable allies to the community on police accountability issues so don't look for any miracles.

After that, it's on to the full council.  The only guy there who the community can consistently count on is Remington (can we put him up for mayor?!).  So barring any further gruesome behavior by the MPD, it looks like the community is going to get stuck with Dolan.  Our prediction: a huge increase in police lawlessness and a lot more calls to our hotline (which has already significantly ramped up since Dolan took over as interim chief).

That's not to say the community is helpless--not by a long shot.  It simply means we'll have to take our struggle in a new direction.  The movement and the community are not defeated and key leaders are busy putting together other strategies--to be announced soon--that will advance our cause.  Stay tuned.


CASE UPDATES
Although we get new cases every week, we are not able to share all of them with you due to the sensitive nature of their legal proceedings. Often when we are talking to people, they don't even have a lawyer yet.  Still, we will update our readers on cases whenever we can and we appreciate anything you can do to support these survivors in their quest for justice.

Johnny Boyd
Trial Monday, October 16th, 9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street, Minneapolis
Johnny is a 22-year-old African American man.  He and a few other young men were simply hanging out and socializing last April when Minneapolis cops rolled up on them.  Two of the men took off running and because he didn't want to get left behind to be beaten up, Johnny started running, too.  The cops caught him and gave him the adrenaline treatment--they viciously beat him so badly that he required stitches all over the inside of his mouth and he got other head injuries.  He is suffering from permanent effects of the beating.  He has been charged with a felony gun charge, though he and his friends have stated emphatically that he never had a gun and the police reports describe a very different person as the one who threw the gun down.  Johnny has been in jail awaiting trial since last April.  He has been looking forward to his trial so that he can clear his name and go home.  Johnny would also appreciate receiving cards and short notes in jail: Johnny D. Boyd, 401 S 4th Street, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55415

Bob Heberle and Roger Cuthbertson
Trial Monday, October 16th, 9:00 a.m.
Room 1559
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street, Minneapolis
A jury trial has been scheduled for Bob Heberle and Roger Cuthbertson for their actions in perhaps the most creative protest against Dick Cheney anywhere.  These two brave souls and others staged a floating protest against the repugnant Bush-Cheney agenda on Lake Minnetonka behind the home of a woman who was hosting a fundraiser for ultraright state senator Michele Bachmann on June 26, 2006.   Bob and Roger were arrested when they mounted rafts and tried to deliver a letter to Cheney.  They are charged with "creating a public nuisance on watercraft," a bullsh*t charge if there ever was one.  After all, Cheney poses far more of a nuisance (and worse) than two guys on rafts.  The maximum penalty is 90 days and/or $1,000. 

This trial is perhaps one last chance to see the very sharp Judge Thor Anderson in action.  Anderson will be retiring soon.  As the author of a number of texts still used in law schools, he has a keen legal mind, a great sense of humor, and is a genuine pleasure to watch in the courtroom.


Criticizing Cheney to His Face Is Assault?
By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive Magazine
October 4, 2006
http://progressive.org/mag_mc100406

Steve Howards says he used to fantasize about what he'd say to President Bush or Vice President Cheney if he ever got the chance.

That opportunity arrived on June 16, the same day he says he read about U.S. fatalities in Iraq reaching 2,500. "Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, 'I can't in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.' So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, 'Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.'"

Howards says he was taking two of his kids to their Suzuki piano camp in Beaver Creek, Colorado. They were walking across the outdoor public mall area when all of a sudden he saw Cheney there.

"I didn't even know he was in town," Howards says. "He was walking through the area shaking hands. Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, 'I can't in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.' So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, 'Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.' And then I walked away."

Howards says he knew the Administration has a "history of making problems" for people who protest its policies, so he wanted to leave off at that.

But the Secret Service did not take kindly to his comment. "About ten minutes later, I came back through the mall with my eight-year-old son in tow," Howards recalls, "and this Secret Service man came out of the shadows, and his exact words were, 'Did you assault the Vice President?'"

Here's how Howards says he responded: "No, but I did tell Mr. Cheney the way I felt about the war in Iraq, and if Mr. Cheney wants to be shielded from public criticism, he should avoid public places. If exercising my constitutional rights to free speech is against the law, then you should arrest me."

Which is just what the agent, Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr, proceeded to do.

"He grabbed me and cuffed my hands behind my back in the presence of my eight-year-old son and told me I was being charged with assault of the Vice President," Howards recalls.

He says he told the agent, "I can't abandon my eight-year-old son in a public mall."

According to Howards, Reichle responded: "We'll call Social Services." Before that could happen, however, "my son ran away and found my wife," who was nearby, Howards says.

"First of all, I was scared," Howard recalls. "They wouldn't tell my wife where they were taking me. Second of all, I was incredulous this could be happening in the United States of America. This is what I read about happening in Tiananmen Square. They hauled me away to Eagle County jail and kept me with my hands cuffed behind my back for three hours."

At the jail, the charge against him was reduced to harassment, he says, and he was released on $500 bond. The Eagle County DA's office eventually dropped that charge.

On October 3, Howards sued Reichle for depriving him of his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from illegal seizure.

Howards and his attorney, David Lane, have not demanded a specific dollar amount.

"We will go to trial and let a Colorado jury decide what type of damages are appropriate," says Howards. "This isn't about anything I did. This about what I said. There is a frontal assault occurring on our constitutional right to free speech. We brought this suit because of our belief that this Administration's attempt to suppress free speech is a greater threat to the long-term integrity of this nation than ten Osama bin Ladens."

Reichle did not return my call for comment. Nor did he respond to The New York Times in its article on this incident.

Lon Garner, special agent in charge at the Secret Service?s Denver office, says he has "no reaction" to the lawsuit. "It's in litigation," he says. "We have no comment."

Before his encounter with Cheney, Howards says he had a clean record.

"I was never arrested before," he says. "I don't have so much as a speeding ticket."
___________________________________________________________
Cop Suspended Over Corpses on MySpace Page
Texas policeman files appeal after posting images of dismembered women
The Associated Press
Oct 13, 2006
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15246658/from/RS.2/

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - A police officer whose Web page on MySpace.com included images of dismembered women has been indefinitely suspended, authorities said. [Why not fired?--Ed.]

Jeremiah Love's page on the social-networking site contained images and statements that could undermine public confidence in the police department, according to an internal affairs report. Love, 26, was suspended Tuesday.

Julia Vasquez, an assistant city attorney, said Love espoused a fondness for violence on the Web page that would hurt his testimony in criminal cases.

"These are comments that would make it difficult if he was trying to defend himself against a complaint regarding excessive force as an officer," Vasquez said. "There may be no evidence of excessive force, but when someone looks at his site, the comments could be used against him in court."

Love's attorney, Richard Carter, of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, said the officer would appeal the suspension on the grounds that the punishment is excessive. Carter said the appeal would be heard by an arbitrator.

The Web page, which has been removed from MySpace.com, was listed under the name Leatherface. Graphic images on the page included a woman with the word "loath" carved into her flesh. Love listed his occupation as "super hero/serial killer."

According to the internal affairs report, Love designed his site in the genre of horror movies. He told investigators the site was meant to be humorous, according to the report.
___________________________________________________________
Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


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