5/1/2007 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Lawsuit Seeks to Strike Down False Reporting Law

PRESS CONFERENCE: LAWSUIT SEEKS TO STRIKE DOWN FALSE REPORTING LAW
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Noon
Federal Building, 4th Avenue at 4th Street, Minneapolis

Join us on Thursday as we announce the filing of a federal declaratory judgement lawsuit to overturn the so-called "false reporting" law that criminalizes reporting of police brutality and misconduct incidents that can't be proven.  What follows is from our press release to the media and explains what's wrong with that law and why it must be overturned. 

The Minnesota Legislature recently expanded Minnesota Statute ?609.505, to make is a crime to make a ?false? report of police misconduct.  Problem?  

  • This Statute emboldens police to decide a complaint is "false," even when it's true. 
  • Some police do retaliate against complainants.  This Statute allows an officer to misuse the criminal justice system as a vendetta.
  • This law criminalizes a false negative report about police, but not a false positive report about police.  If an officer lies to protect his partner, that's not a crime?
  • Community members have a First Amendment right to complain about government officials, including police.  But that right is meaningless if people are too afraid to complain.
  • Even if community members know that their complaint is true, won't many be too afraid that the police will know how to misuse the criminal system against them?
  • Police and their departments have an incentive to misuse the criminal law, to protect themselves from civil or criminal liability.
  • Some police do commit crimes.  If a community member complains that an officer committed a crime, police can charge a felony.  This deters complaints.

Community members are filing a federal lawsuit, seeking to have this Statute declared unconstitutional.  The 9th Circuit has already found a similar statute unconstitutional.
 
Plaintiffs will be present for questions.  Copies of the lawsuit & 9th Circuit opinion available.


Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


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