6/23/2008 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Restore Our Protections Against Police Repression of Demonstrators
  • Typhoon of Repression Warnings: The RNC Should Just Stay Home

URGENT ACTION ALERT:
RESTORE OUR PROTECTIONS AGAINST POLICE REPRESSION OF DEMONSTRATORS!

Minneapolis City Council's
PS&RS Committee Meeting
Wednesday, June 25th, 1:00 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall
350 S 5th Street, Room 317, Minneapolis

Folks, the city council is trying to strip away important protections for activists. Thanks to Dave Bicking for catching them in the act and for realizing the importance of this matter. Below is the a great piece explaining what the council is doing. READ AND TAKE ACTION WHILE YOU CAN!

--- Rubber bullets
--- Confiscation and destruction of cameras and film
--- Harassment of journalists and legal observers
--- Targeting of organizers and leaders for arrest
--- Compiling files on activists
--- Intentional delays in medical assistance

Until last Thursday, Minneapolis had a policy prohibiting the above kinds of actions by police at political demonstrations. On Friday, June 20, we LOST those protections by a vote of the Minneapolis City Council. Based on the historical behavior of the Minneapolis Police Department, we NEED those protections!

These protections were won in November, 2000, following the outrageous behavior of Minneapolis police at the ISAG demonstration downtown that summer. Hundreds of people engaged in a major political and legal struggle to win those protections. We must now mobilize to restore those same protections, so that our future demonstrations, including during the RNC, are not viciously attacked and disrupted in the manner of the ISAG protest.

Realistically, we have only one opportunity to restore these protections, and we must mobilize NOW. A committee of the City Council will be re-considering this matter this Wednesday, June 25, at 1:00pm. We must contact the members of that committee before the meeting to let them know that we care, that these protections are just as important now as they were in 2000, and to let them know we are watching. And everyone who is available to come downtown in the middle of a weekday should be there to show our determination.

HERE'S WHAT TO DO:

Come to the meeting of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services (PS&RS) meeting this Wednesday, June 25, at 1:00pm, in Room 317 (Council Chambers) of Mpls City Hall, 350 South 5th St. We won't have a chance to speak, but our presence will be obvious, and experience shows that it does matter. Bring markers and paper to make signs to hold up.

Call or email the members of the PS&RS Committee. You do not have to live in their ward, but if you do, say so. Even if you don't live or work in Minneapolis, but plan to demonstrate there in the future, they should hear from you. Committee members:

Don Samuels, President 673-2205 Don.Samuels@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Paul Ostrow 673-2201 Paul.Ostrow@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Cam Gordon 673-2202 Cam.Gordon@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Diane Hofstede 673-2203 Diane.Hofstede@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Barb Johnson 673-2204 Barbara.Johnson@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Gary Schiff 673-2209 Gary.Schiff@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

If something is passed by the Committee on Wednesday, it will come before the full City Council for final action at 9:30am, Friday, July 11. We'll update you on the Committee action before then.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: How could this have happened?

Fear and panic. The Minneapolis City Council has been working for over a year to put in place a policy to respond to the upcoming Republican National Convention. But rather than focus on the violence and the international crimes of the Republicans, they see the Republican convention as a wonderful opportunity, and see us as the problem to be dealt with. Their rhetoric has been about guaranteeing free speech, but their actions have mostly been about regulating and restricting that speech.

After many false starts, they proposed adoption of what is called the "DC model" for dealing with demonstrations. This is a system of voluntary, required registration of protest plans, with the city able to disapprove or modify plans, which are then imposed upon demonstrators, though it is not illegal for the demonstrators to ignore the city requirements. Make sense? Not to us either. It's a confused mess. We'll explain more about that part sometime later.

The second part of the "DC model" contains some very beneficial restrictions on police conduct during demonstrations. Police must be individually identifiable (may not cover their badges), the police may not encircle a demonstration preventing people from leaving or moving, they may order demonstrators to disperse only under specified circumstances, orders to disperse must be clear, and arrestees must be processed promptly. All of these good policies result from public outrage following police misconduct at demonstrations in DC in 2002. We had hoped for passage of this part - it would mitigate any damage arising from the first part of the DC model.

On June 6, the City Council separated the proposed resolution into two parts, and passed the first part - the part regarding registration of demonstrations. Fortunately, it will only be in effect during the time of the RNC. That action is done, no chance of change. The second part - police policy at demonstrations - was sent back to committee for more work.

At the last Public Safety and Regulatory Services (PS&RS) Committee meeting on June 11, a surprise amendment was proposed by Council President Barb Johnson, and passed by the committee. It stated, "this Resolution shall supersede the action of the City Council on November 22, 2000 adopting a Policy Regarding Police Conduct at Political Demonstrations." Clearly, only Johnson and the City Attorney knew or remembered what was included in that 2000 policy. That short amendment wiped out all the provisions fought for and won 7 years earlier.

When the amended resolution came to the full Council meeting on June 20 for final action, Council member Cam Gordon was prepared with a further amendment that would add back in the important provisions from the 2000 policy. Other Council members complained that this was a whole lot of new language that they hadn't had the chance to review, so they rejected Cam's amendment and passed the resolution in the form that wiped out all the provisions from 2000. Cam's amendment was sent back to Committee - that is why we are urging you to attend that committee meeting this Wednesday, and/or contact the members of that committee.

The council members had some justification in not wanting to pass something new that they had not had time to study. But what they were being asked to pass was EXISTING policy. They should have been much MORE resistant to passing a provision that superseded the 2000 policy - a policy that they should have known more about, and been concerned about.

So I urge you to contact the members of the PS&RS Committee before Wednesday, and tell them how important this is to you. It is true that the November 2000 policy is only words on a piece of paper, and the policy is not always followed by police. For example, at last August's Critical Mass event, the police confiscated and destroyed cameras and harassed observers. But having a good policy is still important - it gives us a standard to hold police accountable to. It serves as a basis for citizen complaints, and it makes lawsuits against police misconduct easier.

Also, though the November 2000 policy was never published or officially included in the Police Policy Manual, it did result in significant changes. Police behavior at demonstrations has been significantly better since the ISAG demonstration. We can't afford to go backward!

Here is some reference information:

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2008-meetings/20080620/Docs/Public-Assemblies- Police-Policies-Resl-as-amended.pdf OR http://tinyurl.com/5puyrk
This is the resolution regarding police conduct that was passed on Friday, June 20. Note the last section, number 24, which is the amendment superseding the 2000 policy. The rest is pretty good. [note: a few other minor amendments were made before passage, not reflected in this copy.]

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/archives/proceedings/2000/20001122- proceedings.pdf OR http://tinyurl.com/5c26qp
The text of the November 2000 Policy Regarding Police Conduct at Political Demonstrations (you have to scroll down to the middle of page 1158 to find this action within all the Council actions taken at that meeting - it is page 13 of 48 in the pdf file. Note also that there are amendments following the main text. So far as I know, a clean amended copy was never published.) This is the policy that we are losing!

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2008-meetings/20080711/psrs.asp
The agenda for this Wednesday'´s meeting of the PS&RS Committee - not yet published, but should show up there soon.

http://www.citypages.com/2001-01-10/books/try-try-again
An account of the legal aftermath of the ISAG demonstration in 2000. Good background, but it does not describe much of the police action.

http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2000/2000-July/013636.html
An account from 2000 of the police action at ISAG. Concentrates more on a subsequent raid of Sisters Camelot than the actual protest, but gives a feel for the police actions.


TYPHOON OF REPRESSION WARNINGS: THE RNC SHOULD JUST STAY HOME

The letter below was submitted by the Protest RNC 2008 coalition in response to the article in the Star Tribune this past Saturday. You can find the original article at http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/conventions/20620054.html?location_refer=$urlTrackSectionName

Regarding "St. Paul and cops gear up for worst at GOP convention” (6/21) Matt Bostrom and other government officials have their facts wrong. In the history of protest in the Twin Cities, police have always been the ones to instigate violence. It is the police who will come equipped with chemical agents, firearms, tasers, and other weapons of mass repression.

Protest RNC 2008 Coalition is a broad-based network of groups including the Anti-War Committee, The RNC Welcoming Committee, Welfare Rights Committee, Communities United against Police Brutality and many others. We reject efforts to create a false division of good vs. bad protesters. Furthermore, we reject placing civil disobedience including blockades in the same category as “suicide bombers,” “lone gunmen,” or “chemical attacks.” This is especially offensive in light of the Bush Administration’s numerous crimes against humanity. If police are looking for violent criminals, they need look no further than inside the Xcel Center and within their own ranks.

Organizations in the Coalition have signed onto the St. Paul Principles, which call for the separation of actions by time or space. Therefore, during the time of the permitted march all groups have agreed to abide by terms of the permit. We can only hope police will do the same.

It is ridiculous for the City of St. Paul to claim that granting the Coalition’s permit request would lead to “immeasurable risks.” However, we do find merit in the suggestion that RNC delegates just “stay home” to spare Twin Cities and US residents such potential calamities as breached levee walls, typhoons, killer bee attacks, job shortages, environmental degradation and preemptive strikes from the U.S. military.


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