- Senate Hearing on False Reporting Bill
- Minneapolis Cop Accused of Taking Lewd Photos Fired but Not Prosecuted
- Perkins Family Harassed by Chaska Cops in Front of Media
- Small Town Activism Brings Big Results
SENATE COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON BAD BILL: BE THERE!
We just learned that a hearing has been scheduled on SF 1727, the bill that would make it a crime to "falsely" report police misconduct. This hearing is being held by the Senate Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee on Monday, March 22nd at 12:30 p.m. in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
In previous editions of this newsletter, we've told you about this dangerous bill, which attaches serious criminal charges to the so-called "false" reporting of police misconduct. It would even make it a crime to report police misconduct to anyone who "communicate[s]" it to a public official, such as when folks call the CUAPB hotline and we call the jails, city council, judges, etc. to demand justice.
This horrible legislation very nearly became law without any public hearing when supporters attempted to attach it to the Omnibus Crime Bill earlier this week. This year, legislators are concentrating on sex offenders and other areas of concern in that bill. Only sharp eyes prevented the amendment from sliding through.
The house version of the bill, HF1661, has made significant progress as it has already had two readings (a bill has to have three readings before it can be voted on) and has passed out of the House Judiciary committee with a positive recommendation. If the look-alike version on the Senate side passes, the governor would most certainly sign it and this horrible bill would become law. WE CAN STOP IT IF WE ACT NOW!
WHAT WE'VE GOT TO DO:
1) Pack the room for the public hearing on SF1727:
Monday, March 22
Room 15 of the State Capitol
2) Contact the members of the Senate Crime Prevention Committee and SAY NO to SF1727:
Leo Foley, Chair (651) 296-4154 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wesley Skoglund, Vice Chair (651) 296-4274 email@example.com
Linda Berglin (651) 296-4261
Satveer Chaudhary (651) 296-4334 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Kleis (651) 296-6455 email@example.com
David L. Knutson (651) 296-4120 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike McGinn (who authored this horrible bill) (651) 297-8073 email@example.com
Mee Moua (651) 296-5285 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Ranum (651) 297-8061 email@example.com
Carrie Ruud (651) 296-4913 firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Contact your senator and representative. For information on who they are and how to reach them, go to http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/Districtfinder.asp
TALKING POINTS: [Keep in mind that this bill would amend the existing MN Statute §609.505 which already criminalized providing "false information" to police.]
1. The proposed amendment violates the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. Americans have a right under the First Amendment to criticize government, including making complaints about police conduct. Americans have a right to express their opinions openly, including to someone who might "communicate it to a public official." Characterizing police behavior as "misconduct" is our right as Minnesotans. The courts could immediately strike the statute as unconstitutional.
2. Existing 609.505 encourages racial disparity. The existing 609.505 is already misused by police to discriminate against people of color. African Americans are 35 times more likely to be arrested for providing false information to police under Minn. Stat. §609.505. T.L. Johnson and C.W. Heilman, Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: An Embarassment to All Minnesotans, Bench & Bar of Minnesota (May/June 2001). Yet studies show that African Americans commit crimes at no greater rate than whites.
The United States Supreme Court has since 1999 required that the language of criminal laws passed by state legislatures articulate criteria to prevent police from disproportionately enforcing the law. This bill does not do that.
3. We can’t have 2 sets of laws. In many criminal trials, defense attorneys prove that the police falsified police reports in order to get someone convicted. Where is the redress for those false reports? To criminalize lying about police, and not by police, creates a double standard that undermines respect for the law.
4. Who gets to decide what is false? One of the problems now, is that police physically control all evidence they seize (such as videotapes showing their misconduct), even if they seize it illegally. And the municipality controls almost all other evidence of police misconduct (911 calls, radio calls, computer messages, etc.). All of these factors already make it difficult to prove a truthful and legitimate case of police misconduct. But we all know that police misconduct does occur. If reported misconduct can’t be documented, does that make it a "false" complaint?
Another issue is that unlike Minneapolis, most municipalities do not have a separate agency that accepts complaints of police brutality. In most places, you have to complain to the police themselves. How likely do you think it is that police departments will uphold complaints they get on themselves? Harassment of people who complain is already a serious problem. Adding criminal penalties for complaining will only make this problem worse.
People are already afraid to complain against police. Imagine if those who complain in good faith could be arrested in their own homes by the very police officers they complained about? If this bill becomes law, no one will dare complain. Or is that what the bill’s authors want?
GOOD RIDDANCE, BUT WHY NO PROSECUTION?
Minneapolis cop accused of taking lewd photos of women is fired
Howie Padilla, Star Tribune
March 9, 2004
A Minneapolis police officer has been fired amid allegations that he took indecent photos of women in the back of a squad car, sources said Monday.
Officer John R. Mills, who was terminated March 2, has 30 days to appeal the decision. Because the appeal period hasn't expired, officials were unable to comment on the details of the case except to confirm the termination, said officer Ron Reier, a department spokesman.
Officials under former Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson had been investigating Mills for months, the sources said.
The Minneapolis Police Federation has decided not to challenge the firing, said Sgt. John Delmonico, the group's president.
"We agree with the chief's decision in this case," he said. "This totally crosses the line of what it is our job to do."
Mills, who is accused of taking the photos while on duty, was a six-year veteran of the department.
PERKINS FAMILY HARASSED BY CHASKA POLICE IN FRONT OF MEDIA
We received a report that Edwin Perkins' son-in-law Hardy and Hardy's mother were harassed and brutalized by the Chaska police on Wednesday night. You'll recall that Edwin Perkins and his family have been the targets of ongoing racial profiling, brutality and harassment by Chaska police. We've even scheduled a rally and court support for Edwin Perkins next week.
This most recent incident appears to be the case of someone in the household dealing with mental illness who became distraught and possibly suicidal. Another member of the household called for help and police raided the house, guns drawn. Hardy, who just happened to be in the household at the time, ended up beaten and arrested but was later released with no charges. He required medical care for his injuries. During the police raid, a quick-thinking neighbor called the media. Other family members also videotaped the incident.
This comes on the heels of CUAPB making trips to Chaska to flyer about next Wednesday's rally. People in Chaska have been very receptive and many have related stories of their own experiences with the local police. In fact, we were just there yesterday flyering the local high school and other sites and while people are supportive, many told us they are scared to participate in the rally because of possible harassment by police.
This is a serious situation. PLEASE make the effort to support this courageous family and resist racial profiling:
Rally Against Racial Profiling
Tuesday, March 23
Carver County Courthouse
604 East 4th Street, Chaska
Meet at the CUAPB office at 2104 Stevens Avenue in Minneapolis at 3:45 p.m. to carpool to Chaska.
Court Support for Edwin Perkins
Wednesday, March 24
Carver County Courthouse
604 East 4th Street, Chaska
Meet at the CUAPB office at 2104 Stevens Avenue in Minneapolis at 12:15 p.m. to carpool to Chaska.
SMALL TOWN ACTIVISM BRINGS BIG RESULTS
[Editor's Note: Take a minute to go through the site--the pictures alone will keep you laughing for days.]
Ernest Hancock Update
By Ernest Hancock <ERNEST@ERNESTHANCOCK.COM>
You want to learn about grassroots activism?
Go through every page of this web site dedicated to the punishing of a speed-trap (and that ain't half of it) town home of 60 residents, 15 cops and $700,000 in annual revenue.
Well, one night they pulled over the wrong guy (Jim). Jim went to New Rome's court and got screwed. The judge was fond of saying, "I don't care what Ohio Revised Code says..."
So, he got a web site. Got some news coverage. Got contacted by all the other folks around central Ohio who got snagged, abused, and brutilized in this town. Created a web page. Did three marches through the town last spring. Got some more news coverage.... and... the police department disbanded and now the Ohio Atty General is suing (papers filed last month) to have the Village dissolved.
[Politech] NewRomeSucks.com helps to slay America's most infamous speed trap
Declan McCullagh email@example.com
Thu Jan 15 09:24:17 CST 2004
"For a half-century, this village of 60 people has harvested a run-down, one-fifth-mile stretch of U.S. 40 near Columbus for millions of dollars in traffic fines. In good years, police bring in more than $400,000, more than 90% of town revenue. Nearly all of the money goes back into the police force."
"New Rome, Ohio is one of the smallest towns in America, but it's big on tickets. New Rome's cops give out more than 2,000 tickets a year - pretty remarkable because the town's main street is just four blocks long."
"CHAUNCEY, Ohio -- Voters in the southeast Ohio community of Chauncey will decide in November (2004) whether to dissolve their village."
Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)