11/2/2008 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Stop Police Intimidation at the Polls
  • RNC Public Safety Review Commission Public Forum
  • Junk for Justice: Rummage Sale for the RNC 8
  • Terrorizing Dissent: Documentary on RNC Protests

THIS TUESDAY: STOP POLICE INTIMIDATION AT THE POLLS!

The St. Paul police federation just announced a plan to gather petition signatures at polling places in order to garner raises. Beyond the question of whether they deserve raises after their conduct at the RNC, the presence of police officers at polling places may well have a chilling effect on people of color and poor people trying to exercise their right to vote. This is especially so in light of an urban myth circulated by a certain political party that people with warrants and outstanding tickets will be arrested if they try to vote.

CUAPB will be at selected polling places in St. Paul getting out "your rights as a voter" flyers and observing and taping police conduct at those sites. Polls are open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. so we need lots of folks to help with this effort. If you can give even a few hours to this on Tuesday, please email mgresist@minn.net with your time availability. Folks are especially needed during the day.
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Petition effort for cops’ pay criticized
Polls are called wrong place for drive
By Mara H. Gottfried
mgottfried@pioneerpress.com
10/31/2008
http://www.twincities.com/alllistings/ci_10870269?source=rss&source=topixheadlines

People voting in St. Paul on Election Day shouldn't have to worry about walking past police officers seeking signatures for a petition outside polling places, two state legislators and others said Friday.

Rep. John Lesch and Sen. Sandy Pappas, both Democrats representing St. Paul, asked the St. Paul Police Federation to take their drive to different places or not do it on Election Day.

"We think it's the wrong idea, it's a bad tactic, it risks potential voter intimidation," Lesch said at a news conference Friday. "There are people who could have unpaid parking tickets, people who have unpaid speeding tickets who might just turn right around because it's just not worth their time to take that risk of having to walk past a police officer in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote."

Federation President Dave Titus said officers won't be on duty or in uniform, will be outside exits where possible and won't be checking anyone's identification or license plates for possible infractions.

The police union said Thursday that its members will be collecting signatures to get an amendment to St. Paul's charter on the next ballot. The amendment would specify that police officers be among the top five cities for pay, compared with police in Minneapolis and metro-area suburbs with populations of at least 25,000. St. Paul officers are currently ranked 15th in the metro area for pay over a 30-year career, according to the police union.

Titus said that many soliciting signatures aren't officers, but are family members, volunteers or temporary workers. The signature seekers will be wearing orange shirts that say "Federation petition drive," Titus said. Federation board members will be wearing navy sweat shirts that say "Federation" in 2-inch print and "St. Paul Police" in half-inch print on the left chest, Titus said. The shirts don't have badge insignia on them, he said.

"It is very disappointing that an elected official who has sworn to uphold the constitutional laws of this state would hold the opinion that the mere presence of a person wearing a shirt that reads, 'Federation', the union that represents peace officers, would be intimidating and somehow wrong," Titus said.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Friday that petitions are allowed as long as the petitioners are more than 100 feet from the polling place door. Titus said they would abide by that requirement.

Marvin Rouse, a retired teacher and St. Paul resident, also spoke at Friday's news conference. "To see our country come to this point and to have minorities being able to come and speak freely, we don't need anything to jeopardize this," he said.

On the petition drive in general, Lesch said he supports "any union organization wanting to ensure that they're fairly paid."

A spokesman for Mayor Chris Coleman has said St. Paul police officers are "more than fairly compensated" and it's "bad policy to codify a city employee's pay in the charter."

A St. Paul officer with five years of experience will make about $60,000 a year when the 2008 wage increase is implemented. If the department were ranked fifth for pay, that officer would make about $2,000 a year more, according to a Pioneer Press analysis.

To get a charter amendment on next year's ballot, the union needs to obtain signatures totaling 5 percent of St. Paul's voter turnout Tuesday. Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky estimated 7,500 signatures would be needed. The federation is aiming for 12,000.

Jason Hoppin contributed to this report.


OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS

RNC Public Safety Review Commission Public Forum
Thursday, November 6
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, 270 N. Kent St., Saint Paul

Folks, we have no illusions that this commission or this forum will amount to any accountability for police, since they've already stated they will not examine the issue of police misconduct. Still, it is important to be there and speak out about police conduct during the RNC if, for nothing else, to get our discontent down on the official record.--Editor

Led by former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, the RNC Public Safety Review Commission is conducting an independent review of law enforcement planning and tactics surrounding the Republican National Convention. The public is invited to provide the commission with a short 2-3 minute statement regarding experiences people had during the convention. Commissioners of the RNC Public Safety Review will also solicit suggestions for future events and may ask people attending questions about their experiences.

People who cannot attend the meeting may submit a written comment. Send comments to Lucie Passus at lucie.passus@stpaul.gov by Nov. 14.

The RNC Public Safety Review Commission is a 7-member commission assembled at the request of Mayor Chris Coleman. In addition to Luger and Heffelfinger, members of the independent commission include Barry Feld, Robert Hernz, Mary Ann Vukelich, George Latimer, and Linda White.

For more info, contact Andrew Luger, aluger@gr-espel.com or 612-373-8348 or Thomas Heffelfinger, theffelfinger@bestlaw.com or 612-339-7121.

JUNK FOR JUSTICE: RUMMAGE SALE for the RNC 8!
Saturday, November 15, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Walker Community Church
3100 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis
Clean Out Your Closets for the RNC 8 DEFENSE FUND! Then, come shop for justice!
Books--Music & Movies--Clothes--Household goods--Posters/ART--CHILDREN'S STUFF: from toys to clothes

DROP OFF ITEMS THE DAY OF THE SALE, starting at 8:30 am. We have limited ability to pick up your stuff the day before the sale.  Please only call for pick up if you really need it: (612)874-7867.

Sponsored by CUAPB for the benefit of the RNC 8. Stand with the RNC 8! Dissent is not a crime!

Documentary on RNC protests to be shown free this weekend
Randy Furst
October 31, 2008
http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/33675054.html

A documentary critical of the handling of protesters during the Republican National Convention will be shown free at several locations in the Twin Cities over the weekend, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality, a local organization.

The film, "Terrorizing Dissent: Election Cut," was produced by a group of independent media activists including Glass Bead Collective and Twin Cities Indymedia.

The film will be shown at 10:40 a.m. today at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Book House in Minneapolis, and 7 p.m. Sunday at Arise! Bookstore in Minneapolis and at the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul.

It will also be shown at 7 p.m. Monday at Arise! Bookstore and at 2 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Maplewood Community Library, 3025 Southlawn Drive, Maplewood. More information is available at www.terrorizingdissent.org.


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