3/25/2003 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Court Support for Gale Allen/Sabrina Hill
  • Rickey Jones Trial
  • Federal Mediation: The Sequel

COURT SUPPORT OPPORTUNITIES
1) Gale Allen/Sabrina Hill
Preliminary Hearing
April 1, 9:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street in downtown Mineapolis

These two older African American women were driving home from an event when they were stopped by police. Ms. Allen presented her license and other documents on request. Her license was expired (with the corner cut off) so she also presented the state-issued renewal slip. Even though it was an official slip with the State of Minnesota seal, the cop told her he would not accept it and accused her of making up the slip herself. He then ordered her out of the car, pepper sprayed her and pushed her to the ground. Her friend, Ms. Hill, came out of the car and told police that Ms. Allen has health problems and to please handle her more gently. Ms. Hill was then maced and arrested, too. All of this was witnessed by another passenger in the car, a white woman who was not subjected to this treatment or arrested. Police were making a number of derogatory comments about the women, including stating that one of the women weighed "500 pounds." Both women are charged with Obstruction of Justice. The arrest report makes no mention of the cop's refusal to accept Ms. Allen's license or of them pushing her to the ground.

2) Trial for Rickey Jones
Starts Friday, March 28
9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street in downtown Mineapolis

Rickey Jones is a professional photographer who has managed to capture on film incidents of Minneapolis Police abusing people in downtown Minneapolis. As a result, he has been targeted for harassment. The harassment has been carried out by four police officers in particular. He has been stopped repeatedly for phony traffic charges, etc. The current case involves being stopped for having a brake light out. Although he has reported the harassment to the Civilian Review Authority repeatedly, they have dismissed all of his complaints without even investigating them.

Despite the harassment, Rickey continues to document police abuse on film. We need to stand with this courageous man!

Court is a lonely place if you are there by yourself, charged with what the cops did to you. Please join us to provide court support for these folks. Go to the court information desk with the name of the case and they can give you the courtroom number. You'll find us there, blue clipboards in hand. As always, court dates and times can change. Please call our hotline at 612-874-STOP to double check before coming to court.



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FEDERAL MEDIATION--THE SEQUEL
I imagine that by now folks are pretty tired of all the games surrounding federal mediation. After months of Chief Olson's stall tactics, the city council comes up with a novel solution--instead of ordering Olson to the table, they pass a resolution "ordering" us to drop our legal petition against Olson. The resolution also states that they will direct Olson to do what he was supposed to back in December if we add "credible" community groups to the table (however they define that) and if the feds will "certify" the team.

Well--news flash, city council members: First of all, we don't work for you and you can't "order" us to drop the petition against you. That petition is the only leverage we have over you to bring you to the table. So far, you never made Olson obey your original November 22 resolution to mediate so why should we believe you now? Come to the table and the petition becomes moot. Secondly, although the feds never said this was a requirement, there are already a number of credible groups and individuals on the community team. Finally, the feds already have said that the team that was ready to sit down with you on December 10th IS the community's team. So sad for Olson that none of his hand-picks (i.e. folks who are financially tied to the city) made the team. He doesn't get to sidestep mediation just to force them down the community's collective throat.

Interestingly, we were told on the side by a certain council member that the REAL issue for the city is that some of us on the team are considered by the city to be just too effective at making change and that's why they want the team to be watered down. In particular, the two Jills (Clark and Waite) were mentioned, since they have a history of using lawsuits to force the MPD to make policy changes. This is why you are seeing some of the attacks on the Jills. All the more reason to keep the team as if.

Below is an open letter from the Community Negotiating Team (CNT) to the NAACP that reiterates their invitation to the team, followed by a Strib article on the council's vote. Below that is my response to a posting on the Minneapolis Issues list by Zack Metoyer, another person who has played a role in stalling mediation. Happy reading!
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March 23, 2003
Open Letter to the NAACP
Re: Federal Mediation

Dear NAACP Executive Committee:

As you know, our goal has always been to get Chief Olson to the table for meaningful mediation that would address the tough issues of police-community relations. We're pleased that in response to actions by Community Negotiating Team members, the City Council passed a Resolution on March 21st moving toward forcing Olson to the table.

On January 31, 2003, the CNT formally invited the NAACP to join our team. The CNT has a number of community organizations at the table, such as Community Collaborative and Communities United Against Police Brutality. Our Asian representative is the President of the Urban Coalition. Our Somali representative is supported by East African Community Services, Somali Community of Minnesota, Confederation of Somali Communities and others. Our Latino representative is the Vice President of ISAIAH. Because of the NAACP's history in fighting for civil rights, we would like to have the your organization accept the open African American seat on the team.

To date we have not received a formal response to our invitation. We cannot wait any longer, since other organizations have expressed interest in that open seat. Since you have indicated via the media your continued interest in this seat, we ask that you send your written acceptance of the invitation by March 31, 2003. If we do not hear from you by that date, another organization will be offered the seat.

Sincerely,
Pauline Thomas
African-American Community Representative
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http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/3771009.html
Council ready to reconsider police-community mediation
Rochelle Olson and David Chanen
Star Tribune
Published March 21, 2003

A Minneapolis City Council plan to resuscitate police-community mediation is being met with skepticism from community members who had sought the sessions.

Supporters say the council resolution will pass today after winning unanimous approval Thursday from the public safety committee. It directs the community to drop a legal petition seeking to force the start of mediation, involve credible community organizations in the process and get support for their plans from the federal mediator.

If those three conditions are met, the council and Mayor R.T. Rybak will direct Police Chief Robert Olson to start talks, the resolution says.

Mediation was scheduled to begin in early December, but Olson delayed it because the panel proposed by a coalition of community groups didn't include established civil rights organizations, including the Urban League and NAACP.

The petition filed in Hennepin County District Court in January sought to compel Olson to start talks. But federal mediator Patricia Campbell Glenn told Olson she wouldn't convene the mediation effort until the legal issue was resolved.

On Thursday, lawyer Jill Clark didn't sound ready to drop the petition she had filed on behalf of community members.

She said that she has always been willing to dismiss the petition in exchange for a meaningful agreement, but that the council has been unwilling to negotiate.

A letter Clark sent to council members on March 13 said her petition "is nothing compared to the multiple class-action civil rights lawsuit that is undoubtedly headed your way if you cannot find a way to make change through meaningful federal mediation."

Council Member Barbara Johnson, a cosponsor of the resolution, called Clark's letter "extortion. . . . They're trying to engage us in battle, the outcome of which is settlement, and settlement to us means money, and I don't want to go there."

Community team member Pauline Thomas, meanwhile, said passage of the council resolution would put mediation back at square one. Political games are being played to make it look as if the city really cares about mediation, she said.

Ron Edwards, who didn't sign Clark's petition and has been working with the community, went even further, saying that mediation is dead. Even if it begins, Olson is a lame-duck chief who is expected to leave when his contract expires in January, Edwards said.

The U.S. Justice Department seemed more agreeable to the council's proposal.

Daryl Borgquist, a spokesman for the department's Community Relations Service in Washington, D.C., reversed Campbell Glenn's previous comments, saying the petition doesn't necessarily need to be dropped to start mediation.

He said he also didn't think it would be a problem for the department's federal mediator to endorse the community team's makeup.

But Clark continued to wonder what the council means by "recognized, credible community organizations."

"If the council gets to decide what these mean, then we are back to the city controlling who sits on the community team," she said. "Is the City Council saying that the Urban Coalition, Community Collaborative and Communities United Against Police Brutality are not 'credible?' Has the council stopped to consider that organizations that they consider credible are not necessarily the same that the community considers credible?"

Rybak was unavailable for comment Thursday, but spokeswoman Laura Sether said, "While the mayor hasn't reviewed the exact compromise, he is generally in favor of moving mediation forward."

The writers are atraolson@startribune.com and dchanen@startribune.com.
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[Mpls] Federal Mediation
Michelle Gross mgresist@minn.net
Mon Mar 24 09:58:01 2003

As one of the two people who made the first call to the Department of Justice to bring federal mediation to Minneapolis, I had to laugh at all of the inaccuracies and lies in Zack Metoyer's email on the status of Federal Mediation. Sounds a whole lot like sour grapes to me.

First of all, let me point out that Zack resigned from the team on his own volition back on December 17, 2002. He hasn't been involved since that time so he wouldn't know if we have or have not had meetings.

Second, Zack is incorrect in stating that Jill Clark and Jill Waite are legal advisors to the team. They were elected as full members of the team and this was reaffirmed at a meeting of the full community negotiating team. There were four people elected to the team for our expertise rather than to represent an ethnic group--myself, Ron Edwards, Jill Clark and Jill Waite. It was felt that the work of the team would be furthered by having people with expertise in police policies and practices as part of the team. We didn't elect ourselves to the team--the community asked us to step up to the plate and we did.

Lest anyone think there is some kind of glory or financial gain in this work, let me point out just how wrong they are. All of us involved have put in many hundreds of volunteer hours into this work. Some of us (Pauline Thomas, Jill Clark, Jill Waite, and myself) put in countless hours for five months just trying to get the city to accept federal mediation. We canvassed neighborhoods, held community meetings, met with council members, made and passed out flyers, filled the council chambers for key meetings, etc. Then, once the council finally passed the resolution on November 22nd, the games with Chief Olson and his cronies started in earnest and we're still working our backsides off trying to get the city to the table. All of this work has been on our own time and all expenses for it (such as printing many thousands of flyers, paying for postage and even paying for a meeting room when the Department of Justice couldn't cover it) has come out of our own pockets. The notion that anyone is or could get rich from doing federal mediation is just plain a joke. No one is paid to do federal mediation--we are doing it so we can bring about change in police policies and practices.

Zack never had any problems with the way the community team (including him) was elected--at an open, public meeting that was advertised widely, including in the Star Tribune--until he figured out that other community representatives weren't going to allow him to control the team. He arrogantly came to the first community negotiating team meeting and insisted that he be made chair of the meetings. Knowing we needed someone to run the meetings, folks agreed. However, soon he was claiming to be the chair of the team itself and using this to call meetings and decide who would be invited. He used his version of Robert's Rules to tyrannically manipulate and stifle discussions at the meetings. Folks on the team let him know quickly that he was overstepping his bounds. When he took it one step further and tried to stack the team with Chief Olson's hand-picked people, who are financially beholden to the city, the team voted it down and Zack resigned in a huff.

Zack states in his email that the Chief was finally ready to come to the table when Jill filed the writ of mandamus petition, thus delaying mediation again. Again--not true. The Chief had called the federal mediator at noon on the day before mediation was to start to say he would be there. He called back an hour later to say that he would only be there if his hand-picks were there, too. For that reason, the session was called off. Shortly thereafter, eight of us on the team decided to file the writ petition against Olson. A writ of mandamus is a legal petition that forces a public official to do an act that is part of their job. All of us, including Jill Clark and Jill Waite, filed representing ourselves as petitioners pro se. We don't have a lawyer representing us in this action. Since Olson's employers, the city council, refuse to make him follow their resolution, we needed to do something to try to get him to the table.

Mr. Metoyer has every right to hold and express his opinions about federal mediation. However, he does not have the right to spread lies and misconceptions about it. This seems to be a pattern for him. When we wouldn't add Chief Olson's hand-picks to the team, Zack helped himself to our coalition's name and attempted to collect petition signatures until we stopped him. I recently read that he contacted the Department of Justice and posed as a member of the community negotiating team long after his resignation from the team. If, as he says, the issues are what's important, why is Zack still trying to keep mediation from going forward?

The community negotiating team remains ready to sit down with the city for meaningful mediation. We have a detailed set of demands prepared from months of discussions with the community. We are ready now to start talking about these demands. As soon as the city decides to follow their own resolution and come to the table, the writ petition will become moot. With all of the ongoing problems between the police and the community, let's hope the city gets its act together sooner rather than later.

Michelle Gross
Communities United Against Police Brutality
Bryn Mawr

Note:
This e-mail is being sent to Senior Federal Mediator Patricia Glenn, Mayor Rybak and Minneapolis City Council Member Natalie Johnson-Lee

[Mpls] Federal Mediation
ZippinZack@aol.com ZippinZack@aol.com
Fri Mar 21 18:59:00 2003

I find it interesting that the fate of Federal Mediation is now in the hands of Jill Clark. Are we to understand that community representatives no longer have a say in what happens? A final determination on Federal Mediation should come from the community not a legal advisor. That's right people, Jill Clark and Jill Waite are legal advisors, they were never elected to represent the community. They were selected to be advisor and organizer, that's it. Now we are to believe that it is the Jills that have the say so and not the community. This is not true! But yet when I read the City Pages article I had the feeling that the article was leading the community of Minneapolis to believe that Federal Mediation is all about the Jills and the Chief. Take note of this, the entire group of the community representatives known as the CNT have not met as a group sense December 2002. A small fraction of the group calling themselves the "core group" has been running the show. I use the term show because that is just what it is, a show. When there was discussion of a $10,000 grant to cover research for the communities mediation team, I was taken back. I do understand that it cost money to do research, but it was my understanding that we had sufficient documentation to move mediation forward. Shortly after the questionable election of the CNT, Ron Edwards was selected to be the spokesperson. When did this change? Well, it has not changed because the group has not met as a whole to reverse the appointment. But there now seems to be several spokespersons. With all of the actions and reactions that have happened in the past 90 days regarding mediation, you would think that the group known as the CNT has met several times, but they have not. CNT members have attempted to call meetings, but the meetings that the community representatives wished to call never took place because the Jills would not permit it. As a matter of fact, it should also be noted that not all CNT members were elected at the R.Green meeting.

We were told at that meeting that some members had been selected before the meeting. Selected by who? Where were these open community meetings held and on what date and time? I have yet to get an answer to that question. There was a time after the Chiefs postponement that Mediation was once again on track, it was shortly before the filing of the law suit. Everyone was ready to move forward, the police department, the community and the Federal Mediator. But for some reason the Jills along with those appointed before the community elections decided to file suit, why? I think that it is because this would have given all the power and control to the communities representatives. As we can see now, the suit has taken this away from the community, because mediation is now up to Jill Clark. So now we have a resolution from the city council that in fact gives the Jills just what they want. 1) The resolution calls for the suit to be dropped. OK, this should not be a problem, the suit is full of lies anyway. 2) The resolution calls for the appointment of another seat to be filled by a reputable organization. No problem here, Pauline Thomas has already offered a seat to the NAACP. 3) The resolution calls for the Federal Mediator to stamp approval on the community team. The mediator has always said that it is up to the community to select its team, so why wouldn't they sign off? So now the stage is set. Mediation is ready to move forward right? What about the Native American community.
What about the other community members that have been bulldozed during this process. The right thing to do would be to call a city wide community meeting and attempt to satisfy everyone. But remember this will give control back to the community of their team, so it will probably not happen. So the show continues, everyone gets to argue their point of view of how Federal Mediation should proceed and none of the communities issues that will bring better community/police relations to Minneapolis will be heard. I say the issues are the important thing here, not who is at the table.

Zachary Metoyer
Central


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


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