10/6/2010 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Stop FBI Repression Community Meeting
  • Talk by Radical Civil Rights Attorney Tony Serra
  • Grand Juries – What are they?  How can we resist them?
  • Education Session: The Legal Information Activists Need to Know
  • Panel Discussion on the Role of Police in Society
  • O22 Events
  • Anti-War Activists: "We Have Nothing to Say to a Grand Jury"
  • MPD Updates Taser, Use of Force Policies
  • Victory: "False Reporting" Law Goes Down in Frames!
  • Federal Court: False Accusations Against Police Are Protected Speech

UPCOMING EVENTS
October 22 is the national day of protest and there are lots of important upcoming events to report on, all having to do with resisting excesses of the police state.  Mark your calendars now.

TOMORROW: Stop FBI Repression Community Meeting
Next community meeting to organize Stop FBI
Thursday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
Please attend and help organize to Stop FBI repression against antiwar activists.  (See story below to learn more about this case.)

Talk by Radical Attorney Tony Serra
Saturday, 10/9, 5 p.m.
Hamline Law School, 1536 Hewitt Ave, Room 105, St. Paul
Suggested donation $5-20 for Scott Demuth Defense Fund
Tony Serra is a well known civil rights attorney and tax resister from California. In 2003, he won Trial Lawyer Of The Year award for his work representing Earth First! and labor activist Judi Bari in her lawsuit against the FBI, in relation to the bombing of her car. Other clients of note include Rod Coronado, Huey P. Newton, and Sara Jane Olson. He has also represented members of the White Panthers, Hells Angels, Earth First, and the New World Liberation Front.

Grand Juries – What are they?  How can we resist them?
Sunday, October 10, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
In the last week of September, 14 anti-war and international solidarity activists were hit with Grand Jury subpoenas. These are the most recent but certainly not the only grand jury subpoenas served on activists from different movements around the country.  In this context it is critical that radicals, activists, and supporters of those targeted understand the use of this shadowy institution--including the "rights" they grant us and the rights we claim for ourselves. Carrie Feldman, a local activist and former member of the Coldsnap Legal Collective, will be speaking about what a grand jury is, how they have been used to target radical movements, and her experience resisting a federal grand jury investigation into the animal liberation movement.  In addition, one of the local antiwar activists targeted by the latest round of subpoenas will speak on the current situation in that case. Stop the FBI harassment! Say no to government repression of activists!  For more information on the recent raids and subpoenas into the anti-war movement, visit: http://stopfbi.net/  For more information about Carrie's case, visit: http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com

Legal Education Session and Know Your Rights Training in response to the FBI offensive against the Anti-War Movement: 
The Legal Information Activists Need to Know
Sunday, October 10, 4:30 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
Meant to continue the training presented by Carrie Feldman, topics to be covered include:
- An explanation of the Federal Laws prohibiting "Material Support to Terrorists" and how they are being used, and how they threaten the rights of peace activists everywhere
- Discussion of the federal grand jury process, and its oppressive use against political movements
- Training on what to do "if an agent knocks."  What are rights if a federal agent want to talk to you, comes to search your house or other property, or serves you with a subpoena?
Information will be presented by local civil rights Attorney Jordan Kushner, with contributions by other lawyers and activists with pertinent experience.  Co-Sponsored by NLG-MN, CAIR-MN, WAMM, Anti-War Committee, RNC 8 Defense Committee, Al-Aqsa Institute, Communities United Against Police Brutality

Panel Discussion on the Role of Police in Society
Thursday, October 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
In light of the Metro Gang Task Force debacle, the recent death after tasing of David Smith, several high profile incidents and lawsuits, and the second firing of MPD cop Jason Andersen, CUAPB will hold a panel discussion that takes us back to the root question: what role, if any, does policing have in our society.  In the lead up to October 22 National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, panelists representing a wide range of political views will present on this highly relevant topic.  There will be plenty of time for questions and comments from the public.  Please join us for what will be a fascinating discussion.

Friday, October 22 National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality
THERE'S BEEN A CHANGE IN THE START OF THE MARCH!

October 22, 7:00 p.m.
March to mark the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality
Leaving from Lake Street at Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis
Protest the blatant and unpunished murders of Fong Lee, Quincy Smith, David Smith and so many others, and the lack of prosecution of cop corruption with the Metro Gang Task Force.  Demand an end to police brutality NOW!

October 22, 8:30 p.m.
Joint CUAPB/RNC 8 Fundraiser
Favor Cafe
913 W Lake St, Minneapolis
Suggested donation $10
The wonderful owners of Favor Cafe (the only Black-owned business in uptown) are turning over their beautiful club to us for this festive evening fundraiser.  A great lineup of spoken word and hip hop artists will provide the entertainment.  Regular and adult beverages, appetizers and delicious soul food entrees will be available for purchase, including vegan options.  Our goal is to raise funds for legal fees for the RNC 8 and for people who face false charges after being brutalized, including Philander Jenkins, who needs funds to appeal his false conviction.


ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS: "WE HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO A GRAND JURY"
Chicago, October 5th, 2010, five anti-war and international solidarity activists from Chicago and Minneapolis announced they are invoking their 5th amendment right to not testify in front of a Grand Jury investigation. Stephanie Weiner, one of those raided and subpoenaed spoke to 150 supporters at a press conference outside the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago, "This is an attack on the anti-war movement, but the strong response of our movement, where more than 61 protests in cities across the country, makes it absolutely clear that this is about more than just 14 activists in the Midwest. It is an attempt to limit the voice of anti-war, peace, and international solidarity activists."

The five signed letters to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox. They informed him of their decision to invoke their 5th amendment rights to not testify. One of those subpoenaed to appear today, Meredith Aby of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, said, "Our opposition to U.S. war and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, our scathing criticism of U.S. government support for repressive regimes and death squads in Colombia and Israel is well known and public. This attempt to criminalize the fourteen of us in the anti-war movement must be stopped. The Grand Jury should be ended. There should be no charges."

Joe Iosbaker stated, "We have nothing to say to a Grand Jury. Most people do not understand how secretive and undemocratic the Grand Jury is. I am not allowed to have my lawyer with me. There isn't even a judge. How strange is that? It is the U.S. prosecutor with 23 people they hand picked to pretty much rubber stamp whatever the prosecutor says. A person is defenseless in that situation."

Jim Fennerty an attorney working to defend the activists said, "Assistant U.S. Attorney Fox is cancelling the subpoenas for the five due to appear today. This does not put an end to the Grand Jury investigation however. Fox can reissue subpoenas for new dates or decide to arrest the activists and charge them with crimes."

Activists organized a successful National Call In Day yesterday, with thousands phoning to demand that President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder publicly call off the Grand Jury investigation.

For more information www.stopfbi.net

ALSO: If you haven't called Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama yet PLEASE DO!

President Obama (202-456-1111) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (202-353-1555)
Demand :
**End repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!
**Return all materials seized in the raid!
**Stop the Grand Jury Subpoenas of activists!


MPD POLICY CHANGES

With little fanfare, the Minneapolis Police Department updated a number of policies, including its use of force policy and Taser policy, as of October 1.  The changes are reflected in online Policy and Procedure Manual.  You can see the new policies at: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/mpdpolicy/5-300/5-300.asp

Under these new policies, Tasers are now considered "less lethal" rather than nonlethal.  Impact weapons get similar treatment.  Recall that in 2006, the city council required the MPD to adopt a fairly stringent Taser policy in order to purchase more Tasers but barely 18 months later, the MPD secretly gutted the policy.  Their actions can be directly attributed to the deaths of Quincy Smith and David Cornelius Smith. The new policy makes it clear that Tasers neither can be used on passive resistors or simply noncompliant suspects.  Given the large number of complaints we get of people being Tased while handcuffed simply for speaking, if the policy is actually followed this could bring the community some relief.

To quote Dave Bicking, who first broke this story, "It appears that Quincy Smith and David Cornelius Smith have succeeded where the CRA [Civilian Review Authority] failed.  It's sick that it takes that kind of price to be paid."


"FALSE REPORTING" LAW GOES DOWN IN FLAMES!

We are ecstatic to report that the so-called False Reporting law passed by the Minnesota Legislature four years ago has been overturned by the state appeals court.  You'll recall that CUAPB took the state of Minnesota to federal court to overturn this awful law, which criminalizes reporting of police brutality if the person can't prove it happened (and sometimes even if they can).  We lost at the very conservative 8th circuit federal court and have been in the process of mounting an appeal when this ruling came down from the state appeals court in another lawsuit.  To see the decision, go to http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/archive/ctappub/1009/opa091795-0928.pdf    The decision incorporates many of the First Amendment arguments we advanced, so we are quite happy to see the law go down for those reasons.  All-in-all, a wonderful decision for the community.

In a nutshell, the decision says "Minn. Stat. § 609.505, subd. 2 (2006), which criminalizes knowingly making false statements that allege police misconduct, but not knowingly making false statements to absolve police, violates the First Amendment's prohibition against viewpoint discrimination."

One excerpt we particularly enjoy: "Our guide in this undertaking is the majority opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in R.A.V., a landmark case declaring a St. Paul ordinance banning certain cross burnings to be unconstitutional. . . . 'St. Paul has no . . . authority to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquis de Queensberry rules.' . . . '[T]he government may proscribe libel; but it may not make the further content discrimination of proscribing only libel critical of the government.'"


 

Federal Court: False Accusations Against Police Are Protected Speech

By DAVID KRAVETS
Associated Press Writer

A federal appeals court on Thursday nullified a California criminal law adopted after the Rodney King beating that made it unlawful for citizens to knowingly lodge false accusations against police officers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law was an unconstitutional infringement of speech because false statements in support of officers were not also criminalized.

The decision, hailed by civil liberties groups and opposed by state prosecutors and law enforcement groups, overturns the California Supreme Court, which in 2002 ruled that free speech concerns took a back seat when it came to speech targeting police officers.

Lawmakers enacted the law after a flood of hostile complaints against officers statewide following King's 1991 taped beating. The 1995 law is punishable by up to six months in jail.

The imbalance generated by the law "turns the First Amendment on its head," Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.

Darren Chaker, 33, of Beverly Hills, challenged the law after he was convicted in San Diego County in 1999 of making a false complaint against an El Cajon police officer.

Chaker appealed to California's courts, to no avail. A federal judge had ruled against him as well, so he went to the San Francisco-based appeals court.

"It was up to the police department to determine if the speech was false," Chaker said. "I made a complaint against a police officer for twisting my wrist and was charged as a criminal."

The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the decision.

"To us, it was a clear example to cut off criticism of the government," said ACLU attorney Alan Schlosser.

Michael Schwartz, a Ventura County prosecutor who on behalf of the California District Attorneys Association urged the appellate court to uphold Chaker's conviction, said he was disappointed with the outcome.

"It's a controversial issue that people disagree about," he said. He said the statute in question is used sparingly.

San Diego County prosecutors said they were considering asking the appeals court to reconsider or asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.


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