2/5/2004 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Sweet, Sweet Victory in Rickey Jones Case!
  • Philander Jenkins Court Watch
  • Al Flowers and Alissa Clemons Court Watch
  • Danielle Roberts Court Watch
  • Lucius Rex Court Watch
  • Glen Walton Court Watch
  • Upcoming Events
  • There Goes Her Safe Driver Discount: MN State Trooper Charged in High-Speed Lift for a Friend
  • Correction: Schiff Voted for McManus

SWEET, SWEET VICTORY IN RICKEY JONES CASE!
Rickey Jones, a Black professional photographer who was beaten and arrested while videotaping a family birthday party as it was being broken up by police, was handed a well-deserved victory when Judge Philip Bush dismissed obstructing legal process charges against him Monday.

What makes this victory so sweet is that Judge Bush noted that police reports didn't match Rickey's videotape of the incident and he referred to the police reports as "not credible." He also questioned why Rickey, the hired photographer, was the only one arrested since police claimed the reason they broke up the party was that someone was selling drinks illegally. He noted that cops appeared to have a vendetta against Rickey and arrested him simply because he was videotaping police.

Finally an courageous Judge who is willing to tell it like it is--we salute Judge Bush for his bravery! This is what we need from judges, if we are going to reduce disproportionate prosecutions of Blacks and bring fairness to the system.

We also salute Rickey Jones for standing up and fighting back. Many times it would have been easy for him to just take some kind of deal (and, believe me, the state made offers) and move on with his life. But he stuck with it, incurred significant expenses, missed time from work. His personal sacrifices have paid off for him and for the movement--thank you Rickey!!

Props, too, to Rickey's hard working attorneys, Charles Hawkins and Jill Clark--you should feel very proud of yourselves and your efforts. You are both true people's lawyers.

On the flip side, shame on prosecutor Lois Conroy and her colleagues at the city attorney's office for even pursuing a case in which it was so blatantly obvious that the cops were lying. Shame on her for not screening this case in the first place, for not producing the video in a timely manner, for trying to withhold other evidence. Shame on her for aggressively going after Rickey to cover up the crimes of the cops. It is these kinds of actions by the city attorney's office that increase the disproportionate prosecutions and convictions of people of color. As taxpayers and community members, we should be outraged that our court system is being abused by these prosecutors to cover police brutality.

You may recall that the videotape in this case was hotly contested and that Rickey's original attorney, Jill Clark, saw one version of the tape at the city attorney's office but was given a different version during discovery. The version she was given had two critical police brutality scenes darkened out. Still, the videotape was intact enough to show that the cops were lying and to clear Rickey's name. This victory makes it possible for Ms. Clark to have access to all versions of the videotape and they will be sent for thorough analysis by a top video expert in another state (as opposed to that whitewash nonsense by the FBI lab).

THANKS VERY MUCH to everyone who participated in court watch at Rickey's many court dates. Our presence made a huge difference--the prosecutor certainly took notice, as she referred to us disparagingly as Rickey's "entourage." Since the first time he captured police brutality on film outside a downtown night club, Rickey has experienced a steady stream of harassment and brutality at the hands of the Minneapolis police department. He has additional cases coming up that are similar to this case and we hope you will continue to support Rickey as these cases go to court. We will let you know about upcoming court dates. NOTICE TO PROSECUTORS: We WILL be there, you WILL be watched!
***************************************************************
Here's what the Strib had to say about Rickey's case:

Charge dismissed in police videotaping case
Margaret Zack, Star Tribune
http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4354705.html
Published February 3, 2004

A charge of obstructing the legal process was dismissed Monday by a Hennepin County district judge against a man who had videotaped police officers at a party they were trying to break up.

Rickey R. Jones, 44, of Minneapolis, had been asked to tape the party for a person celebrating a birthday.

Police claimed that Jones had refused to leave and was encouraging other partygoers to do that same.

Judge Philip Bush compared Jones' videotape with police reports and concluded that they did not match.

Jones had the microphone near his face, and nowhere in the approximately 3-minute tape did Bush hear police telling Jones to leave or that he was under arrest.

"There was nothing on the tape to give support for police officer Steve Wuorinen's report that Jones told people not leave," Bush said.

He said there were about 200 people at the party on Nov. 23, 2002, at the Marquette Place Apartments in downtown Minneapolis. Jones was the only one arrested.

Attorney Jill Clark, who originally represented Jones, claimed last summer that she believed the videotape had been tampered with and that two scenes showing police brutality had been deleted.

Bush had the tape sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va., for examination. No evidence of tampering was found.

Bush said Monday that the alleged tampering had nothing to do with his decision to dismiss the charge. His decision was based on an earlier case, which said that if evidence shows the state that police material is inherently unbelievable, the case should be dismissed.

Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney Lois Conroy said the prosecution has not decided whether to appeal.


COURT WATCH OPPORTUNITIES--WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Not sure if it's the full moon or what, but we are getting a lot of cases lately, and many of them are going to court. We are finding ourselves with two and sometimes even three hearings on the same day at the same time. We need to ask anyone who can be available even occasionally in the daytime to get involved in court watch. If you would like to participate in this exciting opportunity, just show up at the hearings listed below. If you would like to be called about last-minute court hearings, please reply to this email or call our hotline at 612-874-7867 and give us your phone number.

February 9, 9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Philander Jenkins: This is the young man whose jaw was broken by Minneapolis police and who was later sexually assaulted in the Hennepin County jail. Court support badly needed to prevent further injustice.

February 9, 1:00 p.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Al Flowers and Alissa Clemons: Al Flowers was attacked by Minneapolis police outside of the Urban League building while attempting to attend an NAACP meeting. He and his sister, Alissa Clemons, a former Minneapolis police officer, have both been charged in this incident, which was witnessed by many people including council member Natalie Johnson Lee and state rep Neva Walker. Even with those witnesses, prosecutors are still going after these people to cover police brutality.

February 10, 9:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Danielle Roberts: Danielle was trying to move her car out of a downtown parking lot but was partially blocked by another car that was wedged in by a third car. She and the driver of the second car were having a pleasant conversation about how to resolve the problem when a van with two plainclothes police officers pulled up in the parking lot, blocking all the cars. The officers appeared drunk and were fighting with each other. When Danielle asked them to move their van, both cops got out and beat her badly. They then called uniform cops to pick up Danielle and haul her off to jail while they fled the scene. Danielle goes to trial for "obstructing legal process."

February 11, 9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Juvenile Court
Lucius Rex: Lucius was driving a car that a friend told him belonged to his family. Police stopped the car, pulled Lucius out and beat him severely. Granted, Lucius is too young to drive but police are charging him with stolen vehicle charges and he faces a possible lengthy sentence for what amounts to a stupid stunt.

February 11, 9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Glen Walton: Glen was driving out of Little Earth housing center when police stopped him for unknown reasons. Since his driver side window doesn't roll down, he got out of the car and stood next to the door. A police woman approached him, gun drawn, and put the muzzle of her gun on his head. Her partner came and they started shoving him into his car while shouting for him to put his hands behind his back (while leaning on his back). As he tried to get his arms behind him, both officers started punching him in the face, causing significant injury. He was arrested and charged with obstructing legal process.


IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS:

Thursday, February 5th (TODAY!)
11:30 a.m.
Welfare Rights Committee Action at Pawlenty's State of the Unioin Address
State Capitol Building, St. Paul
Come and Join the Welfare Rights Committee and Supporters at Gov. Pawlenty's State of the Union Address at the State Capitol! Gather at the 11:30 pm in front of the House Chambers At the State Capitol. Pawlenty will make his entrance in the Chambers at 12 noon. We need to show him that real Minnesotans don't agree with the way he is heading up our state. Make your voices heard! UNDO THE CUTS! TAX THE RICH! STOP THE WAR ON THE POOR !

Saturday February 7
2:00 p.m.
Ice Palace March Against Homelessness
Dorothy Day Center
West 7th Street and Old 6th Street St Paul
Join Minnesota homeless people and homeless advocacy organizations in raising public awareness on the last day of the Winter Carnival Ice Palace, February 7! Meet at the Dorothy Day Center at 2pm and march as a group past the Ice Palace to the Xcel Energy Center. Spread the word and bring your friends and family. This will NOT be an anti-Winter Carnival protest, but a chance to focus on raising the wareness of homelessness in Minnesota. More info: www.mppeace.org or info@mppeace.org or Krista (651) 641-7592

Tuesday, February 10th
6:15 p.m.
Forum on the Death Penalty
St. Thomas University, Brady Center
2115 Summit Ave, St. Paul
Many interesting speakers including leading anti-death penalty lawyers and innocent people who have been released from death row. Sponsored by Minnesotans Against the Death Penalty (MNADP). For more info: 612-978-1936.

Thursday, February 26, 2004
12:00 p.m.
Rally and Lobbying Against the Death Penalty
State Capitol Rotunda, St. Paul
Here's your chance to let your legislators know: NO RACIST DEATH PENALTY IN MINNESOTA! Sponsored by Minnesotans Against the Death Penalty (MNADP). For more info: 612-978-1936.


THERE GOES HER SAFE DRIVER DISCOUNT
Trooper charged in high-speed lift for a friend
Jim Adams, Star Tribune
Published February 5, 2004
http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4357305.html

State trooper Jennifer Schneider was on duty, with a State Patrol-sponsored Explorer Scout along for the ride, when she learned that a colleague had a flat tire and couldn't make it to a hockey game in Eagan at 10 p.m. So she picked him up in Lino Lakes about 9:30, and raced down Interstate Hwy. 35E, reaching more than 110 miles per hour with lights and sirens flashing, authorities said.

When she reached Eagan, Schneider, 25, allegedly hit a car trying to pull out of her way on Pilot Knob Road. Nobody was hurt in the Dec. 18 crash. When police arrived, she claimed to have been chasing a car that ran a red light, according to charges filed this week in Dakota County District Court.

The ruse went unnoticed until an anonymous tipster called the State Patrol, which asked Eagan police to investigate.

Schneider, who is on paid leave pending the outcome of the court case, could lose her law-enforcement license if she is convicted of gross-misdemeanor misconduct, said a state police licensing official.

The investigation revealed that shortly after the crash, an Eagan police officer arrived and took off-duty trooper Michael Olson to the Civic Ice Arena in Eagan to play for the State Patrol hockey team. Schneider's husband also played on the team.

When a state trooper arrived at the crash, Schneider told him that the Explorer Scout was her only passenger.

She also said she had hit the car while chasing another vehicle that ran a red light, the complaint said. The investigation report noted that Lino Lakes and the Eagan ice arena were not in her patrol area.

Besides the misconduct charge, Schneider also faces three misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, misusing emergency equipment and providing a false crime report. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Such behavior hurts the image of the patrol, which relies on the public's confidence, said its chief, Col. Anne Beers.

"One moment, one egregious error of judgment makes all the impact in the world," she said. "You take a hit when you have an action like this, there's no doubt about that. We don't want the public to question why we have on red lights and sirens when we need them in an emergency situation."

But Beers thinks people will remember the patrol's history of service and realize this is one officer "out of 540 troopers out there every day, doing great deeds and contributing to safety on the highway."

Schneider joined the State Patrol in 2000. She has had no previous disciplinary charges and several commendations, and has volunteered as a mentor for the Explorer Scouts program, Beers said.

Kyle Paulson, 19, of Oakdale, was the Explorer riding with Schneider on Dec. 18. He told investigators that she told him to support her lie about pursuing a traffic violator if he was asked.

Robert Boxeth, 23, of Farmington, was driving the car that was hit. He is doing Army Reserve training, said his father, Mike Boxeth. Mike Boxeth said the patrol agreed to pay for the $3,500 damage to his son's car.

The State Patrol has begun an investigation to see if Schneider violated any policies or standards, such as those on unbecoming conduct, Beers said. It will also examine whether any other troopers violated patrol policies.

After the patrol review and criminal case, a committee of the state Peace Officers Standards and Training Board will review Schneider's licensure, said board Executive Director Neil Melton.

He said he couldn't recall any similar cases in his five years with the board. Other gross-misdemeanor cases included drunken-driving offenses by off-duty officers, whose licenses the board then suspended or revoked, Melton said. The allegations of misuse of a patrol vehicle and providing false information are "a very serious matter," he said.

Jim Adams is at jadams@startribune.com.


CORRECTION TO LAST NEWSLETTER:
In the January 27th edition of the paper, we stated that Gary Schiff voted against the appointment of William McManus to be the next police chief of Minneapolis. This was incorrect. While he vigorously stated his support for internal candidates and opposition to the appointment process, he nonetheless voted for McManus' appointment. We regret the error.


"I beseech your Majesty, let me have Justice, and I will then trust the law." -- Elizabeth Hoby Russell, spoken to King James I in 1603


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


Get our Newsletter or Volunteer Donate Contact Us

connect

get updates