12/14/2003 Newsletter

Contents:

  • CUAPB Position on Federal Mediation Agreement
  • Philander Jenkins Court Support
  • Railroading by the "Justice" System: The Story of Michael Crowe
  • Spokesman Recorder: Mediation ‘Agreement’ Has Serious Shortcomings

INK DRY ON FEDERAL MEDIATION AGREEMENT--BUT WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Excited members of the mediation teams toasted themselves on the completion of a federal mediation agreement. However, the affects and benefits for the community from this agreement are unclear.

CUAPB has prepared a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the mediation agreement. You can find this analysis, along with the federal mediation agreement and the community's original list of demands on our website at www/charityadvantage.com/CUAPB and click on the Federal Mediation Documents page.

While you're at the website, check out all of the new information on the Police Complaint Records page. We are quickly adding reports from Internal Affairs, Civilian Review Authority and other sources. Just click on the name of an officer you want to know about and presto--that officer's record is right there. Eventually, we will have PDF files of actual complaint documents available, too.


COURT SUPPORT FOR PHILANDER JENKINS:

Monday, December 15 at 9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center (check court information desk for courtroom number)
Trial starts on charges made during the May 2003 arrest in which police broke Philander's jaw while arresting him last May. This is a case study in how police brutalize someone and lay on charges to cover it up.


SURVIVOR/FAMILY EMPOWERMENT EVENT A BIG HIT!
Last weekend's family/survivor empowerment event was the best one yet, with about 70+ people in attendance. Adults and kids alike had lots of opportunities to mix and mingle and make important connections. Darryl Robinson, named plantiff in our class action lawsuit against the Minneapolis Police Department, really got the ball rolling.

Thanks to all who donated delicious food and beautiful decorations for the event. We ended up having just the right amount of food--only running out at the very end of the event. One person brought home-grown greens from his garden and they were the hit of the party!

We plan to hold these events about twice a year, to give people more opportunities to meet each other and get involved.


RAILROADING BY THE "JUSTICE" SYSTEM: THE STORY OF MICHAEL CROWE
In 1998, 14 year old Michael Crowe was coerced into confessing that he murdered his sister after several grueling rounds of interrogations by Escondido, County CA. detectives, all of which were captured on videotape. Here's how he described his ordeal in an article he wrote for Jane magazine December 2002.

IT HAPPENED TO ME

My sister was murdered in the bedroom next to mine. The cops convinced me I was the one who killed her.

I'm still haunted by the sound of screams that echoed through my house one morning in January 1998, when I was 14. I bolted out of bed and saw my mother holding my 12-year-old sister, Stephanie, who was covered in blood and lying in the doorway of her bedroom. I didn't know it yet, but Stephanie was dead.

First the paramedics arrived, and then the police. The cops took me and my stunned family, including my grandmother and youngest sister, Shannon to the station and kept in separate rooms for about seven hours.

The detectives started asking me questions. At that time, I thought maybe Stephanie had had a bad accident. But then the police started hinting that she'd been murdered. They asked if I knew of anyone who'd want to hurt her and whether certain doors were usually locked in my house. If I didn't know, they'd push me to guess but if I guessed a different way later, they'd say I was contradicting myself. That set the stage for things to come.

When I was finally reunited with my family, we still weren't allowed to go home. Each of us had to be photographed from all angles while taking off our clothes one piece at a time. I was getting over bronchitis and was very shy, and my sister had just been slaughtered, but the police didn't show us any sympathy at all.

After that, Shannon and I were told we had to be sent to a center for abused and neglected children. The reason: Stephanie was murdered in our house. We cried and said we didn't want to go. That night, Shannon and I didn't sleep. We'd lost our sister, and now we were afraid we might never see our parents again.

The next day, when I was taken back to the police station, I tried to be helpful. But after a few hours of questions, one detective suddenly said, "What did you do with the knife?"

I didn't even know my sister had been stabbed. "What knife?" I said.

"You know what we're talking about," he answered.

I kept saying, "No, I don't know."

And he'd say, "Well, 'I don't know' is not a good enough answer."

Confused and terrified, I insisted I didn't do it. They had me take a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer Test, a.k.a. a crappy version of a lie detector, which I thought would prove my innocence. Then they told me I'd failed everything.

I was so exhausted, I could barely stand. At times I was sobbing, but the interrogation continued for three-and-a-half hours. They said they'd found blood in my bedroom and that whoever did it must have already been in the house. They described more and more evidence they supposedly had against me. That's when I said, "Well, if I did this, I don't remember it." And they said, "Sometimes that happens."

Nobody told me that police are legally allowed to lie during interrogations. Instead, I started believing maybe I'd blocked the whole thing out.

The following day, I was arrested. The cops said if I told them what happened, they'd help me. If not, I'd go to prison. So, after hours and hours, I said, "Okay, this is going to be a lie, butŠ"And I told them my sister and I were rivals, I hated her and that I killed her. But I didn't.

They took me to juvenile hall, where I was put in maximum security. I felt like a zombie. When I told my parents about the way I was questioned, they told me not to talk to anyone else, except my attorney. I was locked up for seven months until I was finally released on bail.

Fortunately, my interrogation had been videotaped, or else, I'd probably be in jail right now. At the pretrial hearing, the judge recognized that I'd been coerced, so he refused to allow my confession as evidence. It turns out that no blood was found in my room, one door had accidentally been left unlocked that night, and a mentally ill man named Richard Raymond Tuite had been seen looking into people's windows in my neighborhood. The police knew all this the whole time, but they had released Richard because they thought he was too clumsy and drug-addled to be capable of killing.

In January 1999, the case against me was dismissed when Stephanie's blood was found on Richard Tuite's shirt from that night. The trial against him is coming up in early 2003, five years after my sister's murder.

I've changed a lot. I have difficulty being in groups. When I go out, I still hear people say, "That's they guy who killed his sister." I'm shy to the point of being antisocial. So, my number of friends is down to just two: my fiancée and my best guy friend.

Most of all, though, I haven't yet begun to deal with the loss of my sister. I'm going to need to get over everything else before I can even touch that. But right now, I'm still trapped somewhere in the grief.


Mediation ‘Agreement’ has serious shortcomings
By: Pauline Thomas
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 12/11/2003
http://www.spokesman-recorder.com/News/Article/Article.asp?NewsID=36144&sID=16

As many of you know, I fought hard to bring federal mediators to Minneapolis, and to get the City to agree to come to the table to discuss police misconduct. For many months, even following the Jordan riot, the City refused to do so.

Then in April 2003, Darryl Robinson filed a class action lawsuit against the City, representing the vast numbers of residents of and visitors to Minneapolis who are beaten by police without any consequences for the officers.

Robinson had been assaulted in September 2001 by police, but when he made a criminal complaint against them, the Minneapolis Police Department failed to take any action to commence criminal charges against the officers involved. By April 2003, Robinson thought he had waited long enough.

After the lawsuit was filed, the City suddenly agreed that it would come to the federal mediation table as long as it could control who sat on the community team. And that’s what they did. I have even heard talk around city hall that the City wants to pass this “Agreement” in an attempt to avoid a federal court injunction as a result of the Robinson lawsuit.

In that posture, I reviewed the document agreed to by the federal mediation teams and passed unanimously by the city council’s Public Safety Committee last week. First, I want to say that I respect the efforts of the community team members that dedicated a lot of energy to this project, and I appreciate that. It’s always good when people sit down together to talk. But mediation is and always has been a voluntary process.

I also appreciate the willingness of Federal Mediator Patricia Glenn to tackle the problems in Minneapolis. But, I hope that we can all agree that this “Agreement” is only a small piece of the puzzle.

My analysis’s of the federal mediation document is that it’s long on PR, but short on policy changes. It says things such as everyone condemns illegal brutality, and that the City agrees to further talks and further study.

The “Agreement” agrees to study “racial profiling,” which it says is policing based “solely” on race. State and federal law don’t even demand that discrimination be based solely on race. That made-up definition can do more to harm the struggle against police misconduct than to help it. Every single time, the City will argue that the arrest was based on conduct and not solely on race. But in real life, it is improper for race to play any role in the decision to target neighborhoods or make arrests.

For example, if police arrest a Black man for loitering, they will argue that the loitering conduct justifies the arrest. But the problem is that Black men are being arrested by the MPD for loitering when they are merely standing on a street corner (even when merely waiting for a bus), while White, Kenwood businessmen hanging out on the street by Lake of the Isles are not. That’s the real problem with racial profiling, and the “Agreement” doesn’t even touch it.

The "Agreement” also fails to tackle the problem with slanted police investigations (like refusal to record the names of Black eye-witnesses); the failure to take complaints from Blacks at the scene (when it really counts, rather than later in offices); the failure to refer criminal conduct by police officers for criminal prosecution; and the continued use of the choke hold, the hog-tie, and shoot-to-kill, at a time in history when police departments all across the country are voluntarily discarding these policies because they are too dangerous.

The “Agreement” recites a number of existing police policies. But that’s not an agreement to do something different in the future; that’s about what has already occurred in the past, a past that hasn’t been working. We all know that the use of force is governed by state and federal law. The problem is that the law isn’t being followed by individual officers, and the MPD lets them get away with it.

The “Agreement” does not even attempt to change the culture of the MPD. In my experience, sometimes the problems are not the written policies. The City’s lawyers draft those, and they research the law before they do it. The problem is in the street with police officers who ignore or intentionally disobey department policies. The “Agreement” does nothing to get at this major problem.

And why do police in the streets continue to ignore and disobey the written policies?

Because there is little, if any, discipline of offending officers. In fact, in Minneapolis, our problems are so bad that residents who complain of police misconduct are often themselves punished, rather than the police.

Darryl Robinson’s case is a good example. He made a report to the MPD within hours of being criminally assaulted by Minneapolis police officers. But the department did nothing to discipline the officers, let alone refer the case for criminal prosecution. That is the kind of problems we are having in Minneapolis. We need real, concrete changes in the way in which the department is run, from top to bottom.

Now, there are Minneapolitans who are happy about the “Agreement.” And to the extent that they want to celebrate the beginning of something, I am all for it. But let’s look deeper — this process has helped to highlight the reason why we need a federal court injunction in Minneapolis.


Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


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