6/7/2004 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Slam Job on Stephen Porter
  • Force the Truth Rally Against Police Brutality
  • Philander Jenkins Case: Hot, Hot, Hot!
  • Henry Siems Court Watch
  • MPD Moves to Kill Off CRA
  • Policing Fable: The Rabbit

SLAM JOB ON STEPHEN PORTER
Chief William McManus held a press conference yesterday to announce that the US Justice Department (DOJ) is declining to prosecute Jeffrey Jindra and Todd Babekuhl, the Minneapolis police officers accused of sexually assaulting Stephen Porter during a raid on a house on the northside last October.

Despite the best efforts of media and cops to confuse the public, the feds have not "exonerated" these cops--far from it. They have simply said that they are declining to prosecute under the particular federal civil rights laws they are charged to uphold (the same laws they used in the Rodney King case). People need to understand that they make this kind of ruling all the time. The feds only prosecute cases that rise to a certain standard--one of their requirements is that the case have national significance, a very hard standard to meet. The DOJ seems to take on only a very small number of cases each year. To read about the standards the DOJ uses and the kinds of cases they take, see www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/crimhome.html

We should remind you that last October, the feds issued a similar ruling in another Jindra case--that of the May 30, 2003 beating of the 14-year-old son of community activist Titilayo Bediako. Despite this ruling from the feds, the family went forward with a lawsuit against the city and we hear that the city is close to settling the case. If city officials thought the ruling from the feds meant anything, why would they be settling?

If anything, this ruling harkens back to the role the FBI (the investigative arm of the DOJ) has traditionally played, especially in communities of color. In 1956-1971, the FBI operated a program called COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program) that successfully infiltrated and destroyed the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement (AIM) and other left-leaning and liberation groups. Their tactics were appalling--everything from writing fake notes between activists and publishing fake newspapers (designed to foster infighting) to outright murdering activists. Under COINTELPRO, Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was drugged into a deep sleep and then murdered in his bed by FBI agents. All of this is well documented. See http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/COINTELPRO/cointelpro.html and http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/cointel.htm (second site has lots of good information but we differ with the characterization of the Black Panther Party as a "Black Hate Group".)

It would seem, then, that the Minneapolis Police Department has discovered what other police departments figured out a while ago--the US Department of Justice rarely gets involved in the prosecution of cases against the police. Pulling them in can make it look like there was an independent investigation when, in fact, they made a superficial pass at the case to determine if it met their criteria. What a great way to hoodwink the community.

If the DOJ's investigation was so thorough, as McManus claimed in the media, why did they fail to even interview all of the witnesses. Last October 14th, we got calls to our hotline from three different people who told us they were in the house that was raided by Jindra, Babekuhl and other cops that day. Two of them told us they had also been brutalized. To verify their story, a crew was sent to the 4th precinct to review duty rosters to see who had been at the address during the raid. Another team was sent to meet with the various witnesses who had called us. They were able to meet with two sets of witnesses. The third witness spoke briefly but bolted when members of the media followed our crew to his house. The two witnesses we met with, in separate meetings at separate locations, told remarkably similar stories. They also bore signs of fresh injuries. Based on this information and conversations with the Porter family, we believed (and continue to believe) that the abuse occurred. Yet no one contacted us as part of this "thorough investigation." It remains to be seen whether the FBI even looked at Stephen's medical records, which back up his claim of being anally violated.

Stephen Porter, a dysfunctional and drug-addicted young man with a tragic life story (his mother was killed right before his eyes when he was a child) never stood a chance. As we've seen in the Philander Jenkins case and others, once the MPD violates you physically, they will literally try to crush you to keep their dirty deeds from being exposed. Now that they've dirtied up Stephen Porter with 1) a superficial investigation and misrepresented ruling from the DOJ and 2) a second set of charges (he is serving time in a drug possession case in which the "facts" reported by police seemed to change repeatedly), it would be no surprise if they went for the trifecta--charging Stephen with making a false complaint about police brutality--their latest means of destroying a person's reputation. Hopefully, Stephen will be blessed with quality lawyers like Jill Clark and Jill Waite, who are effectively stopping the juggernaut against Philander Jenkins (see below).

Now is the real test of community activists who were so eager to jump on board with his case when they could get their 15 minutes of fame from it--will they stick with Stephen now that it's gotten hard? For our part, we remain convinced that Stephen was abused and we intend to say so every chance we get and to condemn the "investigation" and tactics of the MPD, including the fact that they STILL have no actual policy on field strip and body cavity searches.

For an interesting take on the role of the media in this case, see http://www.africana.com/columns/alexander/bw20031020cops.asp
Pieces on community reaction to the Porter case: http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2003/10/23_williamsb_reaction/ and http://insightnews.com/commentary.asp?mode=display&articleID=1033


FORCE THE TRUTH: RALLY AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
Friday, June 25th
5:00 p.m.
Federal Courthouse
300 S. 4th Street (across from City Hall)
Are you sick of phony investigations and lies that keep letting brutal cops off the hook? There have been four deaths in Minneapolis police department custody since August, and countless incidents of abuse. Join survivors of police brutality and family members of victims (people killed by police) as we force the MPD to own up to what they've done. While we're at it, we plan to call the media out on their role in this madness, too.

Sponsored by Communities United Against Police Brutality. We are looking for organizations and individuals to endorse this event. If you'd like to sign on, please reply to this email or call 612-874-7867.


PHILANDER JENKINS CASE: HOT, HOT, HOT!
Philander Jenkins was in court this last week for hearings on pretrial motions. We had court watchers in the house and oohweee, baby, things were really hot! Regular readers of this newsletter know that Philander is preparing to go to trial for the second set of bogus charges placed on him to cover MPD cop Jeffrey Jindra shattering his jaw. This trial involves a cafe robbery in which witnesses identify someone else at the scene AND other witnesses can place Philander miles away from the scene.

Superattorneys Jill Clark and Jill Waite had the prosecution and cops on the run for not detaining, inventorying or turning over exculpatory evidence (evidence that proves innocence), for witness tampering and for other illegal/unethical stuff. Here's a list of the issues and what came out in court:

1) Despite a court order to produce evidence by May 20th, the State continued to withhold evidence. In fact, prosecutor Anita Jehl did not turn over a key police report until June 2nd, even though police knew about it since last August. This police report showed that a different car other than the one cops said Philander was in was seen speeding from the scene and was stopped by police. Apparently, in their zeal to pin this crime on Philander, the police report was "overlooked," despite the fact that one or more of the people in the car stopped by police fit the various physical descriptions given by the eye-witnesses.
2) Evidence in the criminal case was passed through the civil division of the county attorney's office first. Info requested for another completely separate case in which Philander is the defendent (the so-called false reporting case) was collected from the jail by the prosecution in THIS case and then passed through the civil division. It is well known that Philander will be filing civil suits against both the MPD and the jail. Since the same office both prosecutes and defends the county in civil suits, there is supposed to be a "Chinese wall" between the two departments. By passing info back and forth between the civil and criminal sides of the prosecutors office, Philander's defense attorneys argued that the Hennepin County Attorney's Office breached professional ethics and violated the law. Other parts of the county (Hennepin County Medical Center and the jail) have participated in this behavior by requiring the Jills to get their civil discovery from the prosecutor.
3) Philander's defense attorneys argued that all of this shows the conspiracy to try to undermine Philander's civil claims with phony criminal charges.
4) By beating Philander's brother Willie and then having him held under house arrest, police and possibly the county engaged in witness tampering.

The hearing judge, Charles A. Porter, really seems to get the issues. Although he has not yet ruled on the motions, he was getting so mad in court that he yelled at the county prosecutors and asked them if there is any reason he shouldn't disqualify all of them from this case. It was awesome.

A lawyer from the Minneapolis Public Schools was also there, to address the possibility that Willie Jenkins was beaten by police as a form of witness tampering. Willie was attacked while in school. The Jills filed a motion to compel the school to share the names of witnesses and security videotapes of the hallway where the incident occurred, etc.

The school board lawyer brazenly told the judge that he was 'protecting student privacy' by refusing to cooperate. The judge asked why he couldn't at least share the names of the adult witnesses and the lawyer continued to quote some bunk about the in loco parentis (acting as parents) role of the school. The judge really got mad then--"what about in loco parentis for the young man who allegedly was beaten in your school?" Judge Porter told the school lawyer that he wasn't giving him any guidance on the court order so "I'm issuing an open-ended order. If you don't cooperate, I'll throw your ass in jail." People in the courtroom were in shock--first time we ever heard a judge use a Sunday-school word in open court.

A truly perplexing piece of evidence is the car police claim was involved in the incident. Beyond that fact that a previously "unavailable" police report shows that a different type of car was initially reported to be the car at the scene, police called the man to whom this other car is registered and asked him to consent to a search. Police insisted he come and claim his car. When he arrived, he was angered to find that the car was filled with bags of clothing and other items that weren't his. Cops told him he would have to clean out the car. Among the items he found in the car (which was unlocked when he came to claim it) was a wallet with a credit card in it, and some rubber gloves. Cops on the stand claimed they never inventoried the contents of the car because they were only looking for a white shirt and black pants that the robber wore. They didn't find them but they failed to make any record that they weren't in the car. Police claimed they took photos of the car but now they "don't know" where the photos are.

The most key piece of evidence in this case is a drink bottle the prosecution claims is from the cafe and that they also claim has a fragment of Philander's thumb print on it. Problems with this "evidence" abound: the bottle wasn't inventoried into the police property room until two days after the incident, it went from being a "juice" bottle to a "pop" bottle, pictures of it were taken but not property inventoried by cops and the bottle sat in the testing lab for days without accountability. The only thing, then, that connects the bottle to Philander is the word of the cop who works in the crime lab. And this is the same guy who didn't property inventory the fingerprint and didn't take any photos of it before putting tape over it. Finally, police and prosecutors are being less than cooperative about the fingerprint being tested by a defense expert. They tried to provide the expert with very poor quality photos of the fingerprint fragment, on low quality paper. After being called on it, they eventually provided the expert with decent photos.

The pretrial continues on Thursday, June 10th at 9:40 a.m. at the Hennepin County Government Center (check with the court information booth for the courtroom that morning). It is especially important that we pack the courtroom that day--and it offers a great opportunity for you to witness a very hot case firsthand. The hearing is expected to go all day so if you can't make it in the morning, you can come for the afternoon. Please try your best to be there.


COURT CALENDAR AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Monday, June 7, 7:00 p.m.
Zion Baptist Church
621 Elwood Avenue
Community meeting on racist police beating of local Iraqi artist Haider Al-Amery. Haider faces charges and the purpose of this meeting is to form a defense team. For information, call 651-603-8943.

Wednesday, June 9, 9:00 a.m.
Juvenile Justice Center
Willie Jenkins pretrial. Willie is the brother of Philander Jenkins and is an alibi witness in Philander's case. Willie was attacked while walking down the hallway at his school. Although he was doing nothing to provoke the attack, he has been charged with the favorite police brutality cover charge, disorderly conduct. This hearing is closed to the public but we will report the outcome.

Thursday, June 10, 9:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Philander Jenkins pretrial. See story above.

Monday, June 14th, 8:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Henry Siems arraignment. Animal control stopped near his residence, causing his dogs to bark. He asked the animal control agent to move his vehicle further down the street. Instead the agent called police, who attacked Henry, kicking and kneeing him in the groin. He was arrested and charged with Obstructing Legal Process. During the attack, this 61-year-old man lost his false teeth.

Friday, June 25, 5:00 p.m.
New Federal Building
300 S 4th Street, Minneapolis
FORCE THE TRUTH: RALLY AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

Wednesday, July 7, 6:30 p.m.
Grain Exchange Building
400 S 4th Street, Room 135, Minneapolis
Civilian Review Authority Board Meeting. Open to the public and we would encourage you to attend (see below).
___________________________________________________________
MPD TRIES BACK ROOM MOVE TO DISMANTLE CRA
We attended the June 2nd meeting of the Civilian Review Board. This hardworking board of volunteers, headed by Michael Friedman, is doing their best to carry out the spirit of the redesign and to provide for real community oversight of the police. Since restarting the CRA process at the end of last December, this seven-member board has been holding several hearings a week to clear out the backlog of cases from when the CRA was closed down for over a year. They are currently sustaining about 50% of the allegations they hear. However, this statistic is tilted by the fact that many old cases were dumped by the previous director (Patricia Harris, no fan of police accountability) and the old cases the board is hearing now were just too blatant for the director to throw out.

Apparently, the fact that we finally have a CRA that's doing what it should is a bit too much for Minneapolis cops, who are loathe to have to answer to the community. Chief McManus recently tapped Inspector Don Harris to head the new Division of Professional Standards, which will include Internal Affairs. Chief McManus and Inspector Harris were guest speakers at the CRA board meeting. Their theme: the CRA should become subservient to Internal Affairs and should eventually be phased out.

Both McManus and Harris claimed that officer morale is down and that the CRA is to blame but they offered no objective proof of either statement. Harris went on to say that "everyone knows the CRA redesign didn't work" and that "the community would much rather complain to Internal Affairs." McManus said that his goal is to phase out the CRA completely in 7-8 years, and he stated that the community has to learn to trust the police, which is why he is keeping the Lorenzo Doby investigation in house. It would seem that McManus is trying to get back on the good side of the police federation and he's willing to sacrifice the CRA to do it--problem is, it's not his to give.

Harris presented a five page document demanding extensive changes in the way the CRA operates. Most notably, he proposed that Internal Affairs do all of the investigations and that the CRA simply review these investigations. This is known as the monitoring model. During the CRA redesign, we examined this model as well as others to determine best practices. Our study showed that the monitoring model is not the best practice and most communities using it are deeply dissatisfied with it.

Alternately, Harris proposed a mechanism where Internal Affairs could review CRA investigations and overrule findings.

Board members asked pointed questions, with one board member citing a recent study that shows that community members are 4-5 times more likely to report complaints to the CRA than to IAU. They also pointed out that the new CRA has barely had enough time to operate and can't be judged this early in the process.

During the public comment section of the meeting, we were able to respond to the issues raised by Harris and McManus. First of all, we reported that the redesign process involved extensive meetings and focus groups with various parts of the community along with a detailed examination of best practices around the country and that the outcomes subcommittee report reflected the desires of the community and best practice findings. We are doubtful that Inspector Harris consulted wide sections of the community on his proposed changes.

Secondly, we pointed out that although McManus was brought in as a reformer, anything can happen. He could get a better offer elsewhere and leave or he could turn out not to be the reformer he claims to be. We need a system that isn't dependent on who happens to be sitting in the Chief's seat at the time.

Finally, we pointed out that the police federation and the police department were at the table during the redesign process. The findings of the redesign working group were presented to our ELECTED officials and, although all recommendations weren't adopted, the final outcome was fashioned in the public arena, through city council meetings. It is deeply unfair, now that the process no longer suits the cops, for UNELECTED police officials to try to change it.

In the end, the CRA board was able to find out that the thing that bugged the cops the most was the portion of CRA hearings in which the officer has ten minutes to testify and the complainant has ten minutes to testify. Apparently, the cops don't like having to address the board in front of the complainant or be confronted by the complainant. The CRA board is looking at what to do about the cop's concerns.

In the meantime, we invite you to attend the monthly meetings of the CRA board. These meetings are open to the public and are held the first Wednesday of every month, at 6:30 p.m. at the Grain Exchange, 400 S. 4th Street, Room 135. With MPD trying to pull back-room moves that would effectively gut the CRA, we need to be there to provide back up to the CRA board and keep an eye on things.

The CRA board is expanding to 11 members and is seeking applications to fill four slots. You can obtain an application by going to www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us or calling 612-673-5500. People who understand police brutality are strongly encouraged to apply.


THE RABBIT

The LAPD (MPD?), The FBI, and the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at apprehending criminals. The President decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest that each of them has to catch.

The CIA goes in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that rabbits do not exist.

The FBI goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and they make no apologies. The rabbit had it coming.

The LAPD goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: "Okay! Okay! I'm a rabbit! I'm a rabbit!


You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.
--Anonymous


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


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