3/9/2015 Newsletter


  • Know Your Rights/Copwatch Training
  • From Ferguson to the Twin Cities: The Social Justice Implications of Police Brutality
  • Independent Investigation Legislation Poised to Sink or Swim in Minnesota
  • Interesting Parallels--Treatment of MOA Protesters vs. Jeffrey Rice

Know Your Rights/Copwatch Training

Saturday, March 14
4:30 p.m.
4200 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis

Do you know your rights when dealing with police?  Come to a community training session to learn about your rights and how to interact safely with police during traffic stops, street stops and home visits.  In addition, we will discuss your right to document police conduct and explain how to produce documentation that could be used in court to defend others.
Join us for this informative session.  This is essential info that everyone should know.

From Ferguson to the Twin Cities:
The Social Justice Implications of Police Brutality

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 7:10 pm
Unity Unitarian Church
733 Portland Avenue, St. Paul 55104

Last summer's uprisings in Ferguson, New York City, and around the country have made the public acutely aware of the prevalence and severity of police brutality. This session will explore a short history of policing in the U.S. and the role race and class play in police brutality and the criminal justice system. We will discuss effective solutions for holding police accountable and improving policing.
Presentation by Michelle Gross and Andrew Henderson with Communities United Against Police Brutality.  Michelle is a police brutality survivor and has worked for 25+ years on police accountability issues.  Andrew was prosecuted for filming the police.  He successfully beat the charges and now teaches police, public officials and community members about the rights of the public in interacting with police. 

This event is part of Wellspring Wednesday.  All are welcome. The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. with a hot, nutritious meal and a good conversation. Gluten free and vegetarian options are available. The cost for dinner is: $7.  An optional short worship follows.  The lecture begins about 7:10 p.m.  For directions and parking: http://www.unityunitarian.org/map-and-directions.html
Independent Investigation Legislation
(SF 466 and HF 543)
Poised to Sink or Swim in Minnesota

Prompt and Independent Investigations Needed:  A common thread running through national incidents such as the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Antonio Zambrano-Montes and local Minnesota examples of deaths and excessive force such as Terrance Franklin, Fong Lee, Ivan Romero Olivares, Al Flowers, Chris Lollie, Tycel Nelson, Maria Iñamagua and innumerable other similar but less well-known cases is this:  local officials’ failure to provide prompt and impartial investigations of alleged law enforcement misconduct, as required by common sense and public safety as well as by the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

We have the opportunity this year in the legislature to pass a bill requiring independent investigations at least in the cases of deaths in custody.  Senate committees have released the bill to the full senate with a recommendation for passage.  However, on the house side, the bill is stalled in the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee.  Unless this bill gets a hearing by March 27, it will be dead in the water this year.  Click here to see a list of the members of this committee and please take a few minutes to call them to let them know you want to see passage of HF 543 this year.  This is especially important if your representative is on this committee.

True independent investigations would go a long way toward ensuring justice for victims of police abuse.  Please contact the house committee members today.

Much thanks to our friends with The Ad-Hoc Work Group for Implementation of the Ratified Human Rights Treaties for keeping watch on this important legislation.
Interesting Parallels

Several people involved in planning the Mall of America protest on December 20th are headed to court at 8:30 tomorrow morning (Hennepin County Court House, 7009 York Ave S, Edina) for their first hearing on charges instigated at the urging of the MOA corporate office.  Memos reveal plans by Bloomington police and mall officials to not only secure guilty verdicts and scare the wits out of anyone who would dare to believe a public space (largely funded by tax dollars) should be available for public purposes, but punish protest organizers with huge fines to cover the cost of policing and alleged financial losses at the mall.

At the same time this is happening, Hennepin County prosecutors announced that they will bring no charges against Jeffrey Rice, the man who plowed into our November 25 demonstration in response to the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, pinning a young woman under his car. 

Compare and contract the actions of the prosecutors in these cases: For organizing a peaceful protest, activists face aggressive prosecution and ruinous financial retribution.  For aggressively plowing his car into activists and actually running over a young woman, Rice faces...nothing.  And  let's not forget what cops who kill members of the community face.  Again--nothing.

The common thread here is the way the law is applied to different people. Whatever your opinion of the MOA action itself, this kind of attack on dissent is intolerable and people need to stand with those subjected to it and demand that it end now.  Jeffrey Rice's actions represent yet a different form of attack on dissent and is outrageous that he will not be held accountable for what he did. And, of course, the police literally get away with murder.

We would urge our supporters to stand with people arrested at the MOA protest as well as with activists being charged as organizers.  You can learn more about the charges and stay in touch with what is happening in this case at https://www.facebook.com/events/664924566950377.

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