2/9/2004 Newsletter

Contents:

  • State Court to Hold Hearing on Proposal to Make Arrest Records Public
  • Cardiac Arrest of Man Tased by Minneapolis Police
  • Next Cop Weapon To Watch Out For
  • Des Moines Peace Activists Face Police State Measures
  • Action to Follow Up on Fed Raid on Activists' Home
  • National Lawyers Guild Target of FBI Subpoena
  • Support Statement and History Lesson: Don’t Talk!

STATE COURT TO HOLD HEARING ON PROPOSAL TO MAKE ARREST RECORDS PUBLIC
Public Hearing on Proposal to Make Court Records Accessible on Internet
Thursday, February 12
2:00 to 3:30 p.m.
MN Judicial Center, Room 230
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd (This is the building adjacent to the State Capitol, to the east)

DEADLINE FOR REGISTERING TO SPEAK IS TODAY!

CUAPB will be testifying at this public hearing. If you wish to testify, you'll need to send an email that indicates you want to testify AND you need to attach the written comments you plan to deliver to: Michael.Johnson@courts.state.mn.us THE DEADLINE FOR DOING THIS IS TODAY. Alternately, you could just send written comments to the same email address.

The State Court is considering a far-reaching proposal related to public access to court records. Their proposal can be viewed at: http://www.courts.state.mn.us/cio/public_notices/2004_01_21-Access_Rule_Prelim_Report.pdf

While we have not gone over this 72 page document with a fine tooth comb yet, one area that raises a red flag for us is a provision to put people's ARREST RECORDS on the internet in a searchable format by name. This would allow any apartment manager, employer, evildoer, etc. to find out that you got arrested at the anti-war demo, you got picked up for jay walking or loitering because a cop was having a bad day, etc. [To save you a lot of skimming and scrolling, the relevant parts of the report (using the PDF scroll bar) are bottom of page 12, page 37 for the actual Rule 8 wording, and page 63 for a very good minority report that spells out the problem with this rule change.]

Mind you, we aren't talking about convictions--we are talking about unproven allegations. Since we know from a ton of experience that cops often put charges on people to cover their own brutality, this part of the proposal would add further harm to those who have experienced police brutality. Besides, there's a little something in the Constitution about the state having to prove its case against the person, innocent until proven guilty, and all that. This proposal would seem to fly in the face of that tenet. Moreover, since Minnesota has THE highest rate of overprosecution of Blacks in the country, this would disproportionately harm Blacks.

It's admirable that the courts are trying to make their records more accessible and transparent, but it shouldn't happen at the expense of justice. Let's make sure the courts know that we the people don't want injustice perpetuated for the sake of easy internet access.


CARDIAC ARREST FROM TASING AT HANDS OF MINNEAPOLIS POLICE
Below is the Star-Tribune's account of the cardiac arrest of an unidentified man at a group home after Tasering. This appears to be the first serious injury caused by the use of a Taser at the hands of Minneapolis police. Tasers deliver large jolts of electricity (50,000 volts or more) and, as with all jolts of electricity, can disrupt the heart from beating. The manufacturer recommends that users start with the lowest setting and increase voltage only as necessary. However, we have worked with a number of cases in which the individuals received very large Taser burns even through thick clothing, indicating that police used the Tasers on higher settings from the onset. It seemed inevitable that there would be a serious injury by Taser at some point. We will be studying this case in depth as soon as records become available.

Not to sound paranoid, but rarely do the mainstream media outlets tell the whole story. We will be reporting in a future edition on two recent pepper spray death cases in which mainstream media left out very important, and damning facts. The incident in the article below is not the first one in which a member of the "Critical Incident Team" participated.
*******************************************************
Man suffers heart attack after being subdued by Minneapolis police
Tim Harlow, Star Tribune
Published February 8, 2004
http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4364481.html

A 39-year-old man who suffered cardiac arrest shortly after Minneapolis police used an electronic stun gun to subdue him Friday night was in critical condition Saturday at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Police were called to a group home on the 1200 block of S. 9th St. about 5:45 p.m. Friday after staffers reported that the man was behaving violently and threatening the safety of other residents.

"The staff could not control him," said Roseann Campagnoli, spokeswoman for the Hennepin County sheriff's office. "He was physically violent, but no weapons were involved."

A team from the Minneapolis Department's Critical Incident Team, which is trained to deal with incidents involving people suffering from mental illness, were the first responders. They called in officers from the Minneapolis Police Department and the Metropolitan Transit Police to help.

Officers from the Critical Incident Team were unable to restrain the man and finally used a Taser to bring him under control. A Taser is a stun gun that incapacitates suspects by jolting them with several watts of electricity.

As officers prepared to take the man out of the Andrews Residence, he went into cardiac arrest, Campagnoli said. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Minneapolis police have used Tasers since 2000. In St. Paul, police are being trained to use them and some officers began carrying the stun guns this month.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is investigating. The officers who used the Taser have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Their names have not been released.

Tim Harlow is at harlow@startribune.com.


Next Cop Weapon To Watch Out For
This item is from the Oread Daily (always a great source of alternative news: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OreadDaily/)

NEW PLASTIC BULLETS TO EMIT GAS
Catholic politicians and church leaders have long condemned plastic bullets as unacceptably lethal and demanded their abolition. As part of Northern Ireland's peace process, Britain promised to seek an alternative.

So what have those clever Brits come up with as an alternative. Try a "projectile" that puts out its own gas cloud. Yes sirie, A new plastic bullet that emits a cloud of toxic vapor on impact is just one of the alternatives to plastic bullets outlined in an Northern Ireland Office commissioned report. The DIP is designed to be fired at single targets, but anyone standing within one meter of the intended victim is likely to also be affected by the gas.

The alarming new weapon ­ officially dubbed the `Discriminating Irritant Projectile' (DIP) ­ has provoked the wrath of anti-plastic bullet campaigners who fear that it may be a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire".

The gas is so harmful that the British soldiers and Police Services of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers firing the rounds could soon be kitted out with protective clothing and respirators to protect then from the harmful gases omitted by the DIP ­ if the controversial new round is given the stamp of approval.

In tests the fragments that are dispersed from the exploding capsule showed the potential to also cause injury to the eyes of those standing nearby.

Sinn Féin policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly responded by demanding that plastic bullets be removed from operational use immediately. Kelly said: "The British government committed themselves to the removal of plastic bullets from operational use. These are lethal weapons that have killed 17 people. They should not be in use. The consideration of alternatives is no excuse to delay any further the removal of lethal plastic bullets. The PSNI and British Army have used and misused plastic bullets to kill and maim men, women and children. Any alternatives must be non-lethal."

Clara Reilly of the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets was more to the point. She said that the British were once more playing with words and the group would oppose the new weapon. "When you consider that people are still dying from the effects of CR gas when it was used in Long Kesh it is unbelievable to think that the British are even considering using this weapon in Ireland. It's simply another plastic bullet, it's out of the frying pan and into the fire. They have reneged on their promises to get rid of the weapon," continued Clara. When they introduced the rubber bullet in the early '70s they said it was non-lethal ­ they were lying; when they introduced plastic bullets they said they were safer ­ they were lying; when they introduced the new plastic bullet in 2001 they said that it was safer ­ again they were lying, and they are lying about this new bullet. Plastic bullets were supposed to be phased out by Christmas last year, yet it seems that the British are only interested in bringing in new and deadlier variations."

In 1982, the European Parliament voted to ban the use of plastic bullets throughout the European Community.

In 1991 Human Rights Watch called for a total ban on the use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland.

In 1995, the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern over the continued use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland.

The Report of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning, issued in January 1996, called for a review of the use of plastic bullets as a confidence-building measure attendant to the peace negotiations. A 1997 technical assistance report on public order and police equipment recently commissioned by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament expresses concern over the continued use of plastic bullets.

It's 2004 last I looked. Sources: 4NI, Andersontown News, News24, JustNet, Human Rights Watch


DES MOINES PEACE ACTIVISTS FACE POLICE STATE MEASURES
D.M. activists ordered to testify in U.S. court
Des Moines Register
By JEFF ECKHOFF and MARK SEIBERT
02/05/2004

Three Des Moines peace activists have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury next week as part of an investigation that the activists believe is being conducted by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Activists Brian Terrell, Patti McKee and Elton Davis say they have been ordered to testify in federal court Tuesday about something documents describe only as a "possible violation of federal law."

Authorities also have subpoenaed membership and meeting records involving the Drake University chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild, a 65-year-old legal organization that frequently has been involved in social activism and the defense of public protesters.

Government officials won't say what kind of crime the investigation involves.

But activists say the subpoenas were delivered by Jeff Warford, a Polk County sheriff's detective who reports on a day-to-day basis to the federal terror task force.

"We're just speculating on what this may be," Terrell, a member of the Catholic Peace Ministry and frequent war protester, said Wednesday.

"I think it's just part of the fact that more and more authorities are seeing dissent as criminal."

A sheriff's department spokesman referred all calls to the U.S. attorney's office.

Stephen Patrick O'Meara, U.S. attorney for the Des Moines-based southern district of Iowa, said government rules don't allow him to comment on the subject matter of any grand jury.

"We can't acknowledge that a matter is or is not under investigation," O'Meara said. "We can't acknowledge really any subject matter before the grand jury, whether it's in a general description or any specific testimony."

Local peace activists say they worry that the subpoenas are part of an effort to discourage protests against America's actions in Iraq.

Sally Frank, a Drake University law professor who several times has defended war protesters in court, said that "one can only assume that (the grand jury) is an attempt to put a chill on the peace movement in Iowa."

Heidi Boghosian, a spokeswoman for the New York office of the National Lawyers' Guild, said the subpoenas seek all records that would identify the officers of the Drake chapter in November 2003, the current location of any local offices, "as well as any meeting agenda or annual reports of this organization."

Frank, who is a local contact for the guild, said protesters believe that federal lawyers provided the Polk County attorney's office with a copy of an activist's e-mail intending to announce a series of anti-war events the weekend of Nov. 15-16.

On that weekend, protesters from across Iowa came to Des Moines for a conference called "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!"

Activists met at Drake that Saturday for workshops, and then about 70 of them protested Sunday outside the Iowa National Guard headquarters in Johnston.

A dozen people were arrested, including Davis. One woman was charged with assault. Terrell was present and was quoted in a newspaper article, although he was not arrested.

Frank acknowledged Wednesday that activists had been concerned for months about official scrutiny of their actions, and are seeking information on any other intercepted e-mail.


ACTION TO FOLLOW UP ON FED RAID ON ACTIVISTS' HOME

We received the following press release this evening and would encourage people to attend this event.

For Immediate Release- Feb. 9, 2004 Contact: Chris Nisan 612-529-6674

Marshals Threaten Activists at Gunpoint

A press conference will be held on Tuesday, February 10th, 4:30 p.m. at the Legacy Village Apartments, corner of Plymouth and James Ave. North, Minneapolis.

On Wednesday, February 4th, Chris Nisan, a political activist, who has been active in many struggles against police brutality in the twin cities, and Brock Satter, a musician and political activist, who live at 1515 Plymouth Ave. North, were invaded in their home by two Federal Marshals. Without warning or any knock on the door, the marshals entered their apartment and aimed pistols pointblank at Nisan and Satter. "We were resting. When they entered we were startled and could have been easily shot," said Nisan. The marshals questioned Nisan at gunpoint about someone they claimed to be looking for. The Marshals used a door key obtained surreptitiously from building management. Nisan asked a Marshal, "Do you have a warrant?" One of the Marshals claimed they did, however he would not produce it. Over the course of the next two days Federal Marshals and officers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department invaded neighbors dwellings, ostensibly, looking for the person they claimed to have a warrant for. They held one man on the sidewalk at gunpoint and harassed residents in the building where Nisan and Satter live. Many residents are upset and angry at the actions of the police. "Both the marshals and the management endangered our lives and the lives of other residents," said Satter. "The officers who violated our rights should be punished!" Satter said. "We don’t know yet whether this was a mistake or a calculated act of intimidation," said Nisan. "What is clear however is that what happened to us is not isolated. It is a part of the ongoing assault by the government on our basic human and constitutional rights," continued Nisan. "These abuses are a daily part of life for working people in north Minneapolis and other working class neighborhoods in the city," Nisan said. "Brock and I intend to fight back against this abuse. We intend to appeal locally, nationally and internationally for support and we ask other people in the community who believe in human, democratic and civil rights to fight back with us."


AND ANOTHER FOLLOW UP PRESS RELEASE
Bravo to the courageous NLG for refusing to go along with these police state measures and this odious attack on the right to dissent!

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD TARGET OF FBI SUBPOENA
Legal/Activist Group Will Not Divulge Membership Information

The National Lawyers Guild will move to quash an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force subpoena issued on Wednesday, February 4, 2004. The subpoena asks Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, to produce all records relating to a November 15, 2003 antiwar conference at Drake University called "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!" The conference was sponsored by the Drake Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and was followed the next day by a demonstration at the Iowa National Guard Headquarters in Johnston, at which 12 protestors were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

The subpoena asks Drake University for all records relating to the November 15 conference, as well as information about leaders of the Drake University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the location of Guild offices and any annual reports since 2002. In addition, it asks for "all records of Drake University campus security reflecting any observations made of the November 15, 2003 meeting, including any records of persons in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of the meeting."

Guild President Michael Avery said, "The law is clear that the use of the grand jury to investigate protected political activities or to intimidate protestors exceeds its authority. The government has no business investigating legal conferences held in academic institutions."

On February 5, the federal investigation expanded as prosecutors subpoenaed a fourth activist to appear before a grand jury. Earlier subpoenas were directed to the former director of the Iowa Peace Network and members of the Catholic Peace Ministries. That same day, at the request of the U.S. attorney's office in Des Moines, U.S. District Judge Ronald Longstaff issued an order under seal that sources say prohibit Drake University employees from commenting on the earlier subpoena demanding university records.

"The subpoena has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with intimidating lawful protestors and suppressing First Amendment freedom of expression and association," said Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the Guild. "In the 1950s our members suffered harm from disclosure of their associational relationship with the Guild. The Guild is in the business of fighting illegal government activity and we will fight to protect our membership information. We will also work to support and defend the rights of the other activists targeted by these subpoenas."

The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, comprises over 6,000 members and activists in the service of the people. Its national office is headquartered in New York and it has chapters in nearly every state, as well as over 100 law school chapters. Guild members provide legal support to progressive demonstrations throughout the country, and well understand the nationwide trend toward increasingly repressive measures deployed against political protesters.


SUPPORT STATEMENT AND HISTORY LESSON: DON’T TALK!
Just Say NO to Grand Jury Attack on the Anti-War Movement
A statement from the National Office of Refuse & Resist!
February 9, 2004

For the first time since the Vietnam War, a university has been ordered to turn over records concerning an anti-war program on campus to a federal grand jury. Four anti-war activists have also been subpoenaed to appear before that same grand jury on February 10. On top of this, the university has been issued a gag-order, preventing it from saying anything about the whole sordid affair.

What so provoked the ire of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft gang was a conference on November 15, 2003, on the Drake University campus titled "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!" The conference was followed the next day by a righteous demonstration at the headquarters of the Iowa National Guard in Johnston, Iowa. This is precisely the kind of action the times call for if we are going to stop the government’s juggernaut of war and repression.

Stung by popular resistance, the government issued a subpoena on February 3 to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, calling for the turning over all records and documents in the possession of Drake University relating to the anti-war conference held on campus. The conference was sponsored by the Drake Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG).

The subpoena commands the university to turn over all records "relating to the scheduling of the conference," the identity of all "persons that actually attended the meeting, the identity of the officers of the Drake chapter of the NLG," all "meeting agenda or annual reports of this organization filed with the University since January 1, 2002," and all "records of Drake University campus security reflecting any observations made of the November 15, 2003 meeting, including any records of persons in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of the meeting."

In other words, the university is being commanded to act as an arm of the state in spying on political dissent (the assumption is made that the campus cops already did so!) and it is ordered not make any public comment or protest about it.

The Grand Jury Is a Tool of Repression

The popular illusion is that grand juries exist to protect citizens from malicious prosecution by the state, by hearing the state’s evidence in private to ascertain if there is sufficient reason for a trial to be held. In the 1950s and 60s, however, grand juries were regularly used to both harass political dissenters and threaten people with being sent to jail if they do not snitch on their associates in secret proceedings. For example, baby doctor Benjamin Spock and Yale chaplain William Sloan Coffin were indicted by a grand jury for conspiracy to obstruct the draft after they had signed a statement against the Vietnam war and the draft.

Grand jury testimony used to be secret. Now under the USA Patriot Act, "secret" grand jury testimony can be shared with the FBI, CIA, and other agencies asserting an interest in an "anti-terrorism" investigation, but witnesses cannot get a transcript to prove what they did or did not say. So what goes on behind the closed doors is only a secret from the movements of resistance, not from the political police.

When you appear before a grand jury, you may not be accompanied by your attorney, there are no public spectators, and the federal attorney asks the questions. You can -- and should -- assert your Fifth Amendment right not to testify. But you cannot do this selectively. That is, once you begin answering questions, you must answer them all or go to jail. Finally, the government can strip you of your Fifth Amendment protection by giving you immunity from prose­cution for what you say. If this happens, you must tell the government snoops what they want to know or go to jail.

Too often people subpoenaed think they can outfox the grand jury and "find out" what the investigation is really after. This is a very big mistake. The trained federal attorney has no intention of tipping the government’s hand. If you give testimony -- even seemingly innocuous testimony -- it can be used after you leave the room to "corroborate" a bogus story being fed to the grand jury. Also, if your associates are later indicted, you have no way of proving that it was not on the basis of your testimony. The watchword in dealing with the agents of repression is always DON’T TALK.

The Politics of Repression

This sudden resurgence of federal grand juries against antiwar protests highlights some ugly trends and dangerous possibilities. Besides the chilling of dissent against the U.S.’s "war on the world" by threatening people with grand jury subpoenas, there is a larger pattern of a grab for power by the federal government as concentrated in the executive branch. First of all, why is the federal government involved at all?

There is a move underway to paint anti-war protest as illegal support for “terrorism” under the USA Patriot Act and it raises the specter of using anti-dissent federal laws from World War I that are still on the books. Those laws sought to criminalize the promotion of "disaffection" among the armed forces or impede military recruitment. The Sedition and Espionage Acts were used during that period to jail hundreds of antiwar activists and ban anti-war publications from the U.S. mail.

What we are seeing is a pattern of selectively "federalizing" local law enforcement, literally making "a federal case" out of local dissent, and creating federal "dissent verboten" zones around the President and federal institutions.

Finally, colleges and universities have historically been integral to movements for rights and social progress. In attacking a university the government seeks to wield its tremendous power to shut down avenues of questioning and facilities for the organization of protest. Added to this is a totally unjustified gag order of a type that has been made "standard operating procedure" in the USA Patriot Act.

The Importance of Saying NO!

Refuse & Resist! calls on all progressive movements and organizations opposing the Bush regime’s “war on the world” to adopt guidelines and practices that will frustrate the activities of the federal snoops. We urge all those served with these political harassment grand jury subpoenas to seek legal counsel, expose these attacks to the public, and to resist compliance by every appropriate means. Responding to these attacks is not a “distraction” from our movements; it is an integral part of our struggle and wins people to understanding more clearly the nature of what we are up against.

As Refuse & Resist! says in its founding statement, "we renounce all allegiance to this hateful ‘Resurgent America’ program, and encourage all others in its vociferous and determined renunciation. There can be no commonality of purpose, healing of divisions, or coming together as one nation behind this new course. To acquiesce further in silence is to be complicit."

We call on everyone to dare to do what is necessary and organize to stop the war on the world and its police state measures at home. Give your full support to the anti-war community of Iowa and the National Lawyers Guild. Support the demand that Federal Attorney Stephen Patrick O’Meara and Federal Judge Ronald E. Longstaff quash these politically motivated subpoenas. Join the protest demonstrations at the federal courthouse. And wholeheartedly stand with all who refuse to comply.


There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!--- Mario Savio


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


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