6/20/2003 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Defend Omar Jamal
  • Victory in Roger Calero Case
  • INS/MPD Separation Ordinance
  • Community to Judges: We're Watching You!

UPCOMING EVENTS:
1) MUNCH FOR JUSTICE!
Eat great food and help a great cause: Help us raise money for a federal class action lawsuit to end police brutality in Minneapolis.
Saturday, June 21
11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
***Only $8.00***
Your Choice of: BBQ Chicken, Deep Fried Fish, Rib Tips, Beef Ribs
With Choice of Two Sides: Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Greens
With bread and dessert: Chocolate/Whipped Cream "Better than S*x" Cake
ON JUNE 21st Call 612-874-7867 from 10:00 a.m. on to order your meal delivered fresh to you.

2) DEFEND OMAR JAMAL! CELEBRATE RÓGER CALERO'S VICTORY OVER INS ATTEMPTED DEPORTATION!
Saturday, June 21st
6:00 p.m.
Brian Coyle Center
420 15th Ave. S, Minneapolis
For more information : 651-917-0383 or 651-485-4208
Sponsored by Omar Jamal Defense Committee and Twin Cities Roger Calero Defense Committee

Since September 11th, Omar Jamal, Executive Director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, has emerged as one of the most prominent advocates for immigrant rights and civil liberties in the United States. Whether protesting the closing of Somali Money Wiring Services, calling the police to account for hate crimes and police brutality, or challenging the budget cuts that target recent immigrants and the most vulnerable of society, Omar has been on the front lines, defending immigrants and civil liberties. For these activities, Omar was singled out and targeted for an investigation by the US government. Omar now faces six felony charges for allegedly giving three incorrect answers on an asylum application in 1998. He faces 30 years in a federal penitentiary and deportation.

On May 22 a federal judge signed a final order terminating the government's effort to deport Róger Calero, associate editor of Perspectiva Mundial magazine and staff writer for the Militant newspaper. Calero, a permanent resident of the US since 1990, had been arrested last Dec. 3 at the Houston airport. The US government began deportation proceedings against him based on a 1988 conviction for a minor offense when he was a high school student.
Supporters of Calero initiated a broad public political fight in which many organizations and leaders of unions, immigrant rights groups and civil liberties groups backed his defense. After six months the US government gave up. The victory is an example that can help others who are fighting for the rights of immigrants. Come to discuss these important fights and to discuss how to advance all the fights for justice for immigrant people.

3) INS/CITY SEPARATION ORDINANCE - IMPORTANT HEARING:
Monday, June 23
1:30 p.m.
City Hall
Room 317
This relates to an ordinance folks have been trying to get the Minneapolis City Council to pass that would block police from becoming extensions of the INS. This is VERY IMPORTANT to the immigrant community because if police become surrogate INS agents, immigrant crime victims would be afraid to call police for fear of being arrested themselves. Despite hard work on the part of the broad-based coalition fighting for this ordinance, they are experiencing the treatment we get when we try to bring up something important down at City Hall: run arounds and stall tactics. This potential ordinance is in trouble and needs our help!

There will be a public hearing for this ordinance on Monday June 23 at 1:30PM in Room 317 of City Hall. This hearing will not be a piece of cake.

We are anticipating the presence of organized opposition (the "Minnesota Immigration Group") which has lobbied all Council Members, labeling non-citizens as threats to our safety and health, criminals who are committing crimes and getting away with it because they are being hidden by their communities. So it's getting ugly and the time to stand for fairness and decency in Minneapolis is upon us.

There are supporters on the city council (Gary Schiff, Natalie Johnson Lee, Dean Zimmerman, and Robert Lilligren) but we need to be there to help them stand strong against this onslaught and to show that the community supports this ordinance. PLEASE BE THERE!


COMMUNITY TO JUDGES: WE'RE WATCHING YOU!
Pauline Thomas writes a regular column for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. http://www.spokesman-recorder.com/News/default.asp Her topic in recent columns has been the Hennepin County judges. Pauline has been with us on some of our court cases and has seen these judges in all their glory. It seems that some judges are less concerned about fairness and more concerned with "efficiency" (i.e. how fast they can move people of color into the plantation, oops, prison system). Pauline recently sent the survey below to all Hennepin County judges and she will report the results in her column. We will send those articles along when they come out.

Dear Hennepin County Judge:

I am a Black woman. I have been attending court sessions and watching the way in which you judges decide criminal cases where the defendant is Black. I guess you could call me a "court watcher." Maybe some of you have seen me sitting in your courtroom. But perhaps you did not realize that I write a column for the Spokesman-Recorder, a local newspaper that covers issues of concern to Blacks and other people of color.

Many of our readers believe that Blacks cannot get fair trials in county court. And based on what I have witnessed while I have observed, I also have concerns. I have been alarmed at how some judges seem to think that a Black man’s defense of innocence deserves no attention. It seems like Blacks are presumed guilty, and that judges don’t even want to spend time letting them prove their innocence.

I don’t think this is because I don’t understand the system. I am smart enough to understand the Legislature, the City Council, and the Governor. So I’m not real interested in someone telling me that Blacks only "perceive" prejudice in the court system because we don’t understand it. I believe that unless we challenge ourselves to root out bias and prejudice, then it will flourish. So I ask each of you to take a hard look at yourself, your attitudes, and the way you do the business of the court. We all have things to learn from each other. To facilitate a discussion on these issues, I have put together the following survey. Take a minute to read and respond via email. I think you will find it is well worth your time to consider these issues.

1. Does it matter to you that Minnesota now has the worst record of any state in the nation for the over-conviction of Blacks?

2. Do you think, with that record, that we can continue to do things the way they have always been done?

3. What have you affirmatively done to correct the problem of the over-conviction of Blacks?

4. Do you think efficiency is more important than truth?

5. Do you live in a mostly-white community?

6. Do you spend time with people of color in your private life?

7. Do you believe that you have enough knowledge to understand the Black experience ­ what it is like to grow up Black in Minneapolis?

8. Are you up for re-election in 2004? If so, are you going to run?
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This survey will help to start the discussion with these elected officials, and that, hopefully, is the first step to reforming the justice system. Unless we start openly talking about these things, nothing will change. I will continue to monitor the court system, and many of the other systems, as well.


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


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