10/30/2009 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Stolen Lives Ceremony and Dinner
  • Worst Chief Ever: Rybak Pushes Dolan for Another Term
  • Cops Lie, Tapes Don't

STOLEN LIVES CEREMONY AND SURVIVOR, FAMILY AND FRIENDS DINNER

Sunday, November 1, 5:30 p.m.
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave, Minneapolis

Join us for a ceremony to commemorate the lives of people who have died at the hands of police.  Since last October 22, 18 people have been added to the list.  These people can no longer speak for themselves but we can and must be their voices demanding justice.  Family members of victims of police violence will speak on behalf of their loved ones, reminding us that these were people with families who loved them.  This solemn ceremony will be followed by a more festive dinner to mark our victories over the past year, to remember old friendships and make new ones, and to fortify ourselves for the work of the coming year.  There is no charge for the meal--it will be our pleasure to have you join us for a sumptuous feast, including vegan and vegetarian options.


WORST CHIEF EVER: RYBAK PUSHES DOLAN FOR ANOTHER TERM
TAKE ACTION TO STOP THIS REAPPOINTMENT

Despite record settlements for police misconduct, mass demotions of officers of color, huge spikes in police brutality incidents, the RNC debacle, and his flat refusal to discipline sustained cases from the Civilian Review Authority, mayor RT Rybak plans to renew the appointment of police chief Tim Dolan for another three years.  Dolan's term expires in December. 

The community doesn't have to take this.  We can demand a public hearing so that our voices are heard.  Call your city council member today and demand a public hearing.  Even a few phone calls or emails will help put this on the city council's radar screen.  Don't forget the MPD's outrageous conduct after the Rage Against the Machine show during the RNC, their treatment of RNC protesters in St. Paul, even their dousing of Leah Lane in pepper spray as she held her fingers up in a peace sign.  Dolan was right there for most of that and he has never bothered to discipline those officers.  HE NEEDS TO GO! 

Contact info for council members is at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/ Please contact them TODAY.


COPS LIE, TAPES DON'T--YET NO PUNISHMENT FOR COPS

Cop Lucas Peterson has been on our radar screen for a long time as we get many, many complaints about him.  In one situation, a young woman went to the precinct to complain about officers not enforcing a restraining order.  Peterson came out from behind the desk, told the young woman "you're not coming into MY HOUSE to complain" and threw her face first out the front door onto the frozen ground.  The guy is a brute.  Yet, per the MPD's own spokesperson, this lying cop got no punishment whatsoever.  Wanna know why we have a problem with brutality among the MPD?  There's your answer. 

Go to the link below to see a stark video.  Note the number of cops that show up on the scene--they all want in on the beat down.  It's a lucky thing this video was available as most of these videos magically "disappear."

Tape tells the tale that cops didn’t: Couple get $100,000
The city of Minneapolis has settled couple's case alleging false arrest and discrimination for $100,000.
By ABBY SIMONS, Star Tribune
October 28, 2009
http://www.startribune.com/local/66721387.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

According to a police report, Nancy Johnson jumped on a Minneapolis police officer's back as he fought with her partner, Derrick Simmons, when they were arrested the night of Aug. 4, 2006.

But a Hennepin County Safe Zone camera affixed above the north Minneapolis intersection where officers stopped Simmons' car told a different story. In the video, as two officers struggle with Simmons, Johnson exits the car but returns when ordered without joining the struggle. The video exposed parts of Officer Lucas Peterson's report to be fiction. And that fiction, plus other problems with the arrests, recently cost the city $100,000 in legal settlements to Johnson, 34, and Simmons, 38.

The couple maintained in civil filings that Peterson and Officer Mark Kaspszak falsely arrested them and discriminated against them because they are black. A judge dismissed charges against them after finding a lack of "credible evidence."

Peterson, who joined the department in 1999, spent three years as a member of the disbanded Metro Gang Strike Force. According to an Oct. 16 Star Tribune story citing law enforcement sources, he is one of eight members of the department under investigation for alleged misconduct related to their work in the unit.

Simmons, who declined to comment, has had legal troubles of his own. According to state records, since 1998 he's been convicted of four felonies, including burglary and terroristic threats.

Police spokesman Jesse Garcia said he knew of no internal investigation or discipline of the officers related to the north Minneapolis traffic stop. He said that apart from whether the stop was justified or what was written in reports, it's clear that Simmons acted inappropriately.

"I think it needs to be looked at as two separate issues," Garcia said, "and clearly Simmons was interfering with the legal process that involved himself."

A city spokesman said Tuesday that the $65,000 settlement to Johnson and $35,000 settlement to Simmons "are the most cost- effective solutions in these cases." He declined further comment.

It's the latest video to come back to bite Minneapolis police. In December 2008 a parking garage camera captured officers beating Nicholas Kastner during his arrest for car burglaries. He filed a federal lawsuit.

Video showed officers kicking Derryl Jenkins in the head during a traffic stop in February. Chief Tim Dolan ordered all officers to watch the video with a supervisor and discuss appropriate use of force.

Peterson wrote in his report that they stopped Simmons' Mercedes at Broadway and Fremont Avenues because it was going faster than 60 miles per hour. They said that when they informed him he was under arrest, he turned aggressively, and they scuffled with him.

The couple's attorney, Stephen Smith, acknowledges that Simmons "should not have ended up in the position he was in."  He said Simmons spun around because he didn't understand why he was being arrested. Johnson, he said, has no history of trouble with the police.

Couple 'lucky' they found tape

The video shows her approaching the scuffle, but she returns when one of the officers orders her back to the car. Peterson, in his report, wrote, "I looked up to notice that the female passenger was clinging to my partner from his back. It appeared she was holding him in a reverse bear hug." He wrote that she later attacked Kaspszak a second time, and in response he -- Peterson -- maced her. The tape depicts none of that, and Johnson testified it wasn't true.

Kaspszak testified that he did not recall Johnson jumping on his back, nor did he recall her being maced. After reviewing the tape twice, Judge Robert Blaeser dismissed the case.

"One officer says the car was silver; one says it was gold," Blaeser said. "One says it ran a red light; one doesn't say anything about that. One says he saw somebody throw something out the driver's door; the other one did not. One says the passenger was jumping on the back of an officer, pulling the officer, and that he maced her; and the other one does not. I'm going to find that there's not enough credible evidence for a stop in this case."

Smith, the couple's attorney, said "My clients got lucky, finding that tape. You stop and think about how many times that has happened to individuals who don't have independent corroboration."


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