7/29/2003 Newsletter

Contents:

  • The Rickey Jones Case: Making Court Fun Again
  • Justice for Fregenet Tafesse Woubshet
  • Rubin "Hurricane" Carter Event

MUNCH FOR JUSTICE II--Eat to End Police Brutality
On Saturday, August 2 you'll get another delicious opportunity to help support the community's class action lawsuit to end police brutality. If you missed out last time, here's your chance to get ahold of some of the best food in the Twin Cities. Food so good, people were calling back and ordering more! NEW THIS TIME: Vegetarian meals, too.

On August 2nd, you can get your meal three ways:
1) Call 612-874-7867 starting at 10:00 a.m. to order your meal and we will bring it hot and fresh to your door (delivery starts at 11:30 a.m.).
2) Come by Walker Church at 3104 16th Ave S starting at 11:30 a.m. and pick up your food.
3) Join us for a sit-down meal at Walker Church between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.
***Only $8.00***
Your Choice of: BBQ Chicken, Deep Fried Fish, Rib Tips, Beef Ribs OR A Variety of Vegetarian Entrees
With Choice of Two Sides: Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Greens

We still need kitchen and delivery volunteers. The best part--volunteers eat free! Call our hotline at 612-874-7867 if you can help.


MEETING CHANGE ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 2
Because of Munch for Justice II, we won't be holding our regular Saturday meeting at the IATP building but will gather at the kitchen area in the basement of Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S starting at 9:00 a.m.

For those who want to come for just the meeting, we will have a loose meeting as we prepare food at our normal meeting time, about 1:30 p.m.


THE RICKEY JONES CASE: MAKING COURT FUN AGAIN
The Rickey Jones case was back in court on July 16th. People usually think of court as kind of boring but believe me, this hearing was a hoot! If you'll recall, a key issue of this case is controversy over the videotape Rickey recorded when cops attacked the birthday party he was filming. Rickey got some nice shots of the attack on film, including POLICE BEATING HIM. Rickey's attorney, Jill Clark, viewed the tape in the city attorney's office but the city attorney stalled and stalled about actually giving her a copy of that tape. When the tape was finally turned over, the more damning sections had been blacked out. This is called withholding of exculpatory evidence and destruction of evidence and it's a big deal. Hence this hearing, during which Judge Philip Bush played various versions of the tape.

The judge ordered assistant city attorney Lois Conroy to bring the original camcorder videotape and the VHS tape she is claiming the prosecutor's office copied for Ms. Clark. Ms. Clark also brought a copy of the videotape she had given to the experts to examine (the one that the experts said had sections edited from it in at least two places, maybe more).

Judge Bush had Ms. Conroy play the (supposed) original camcorder tape. Then the two other tapes were played. There were differences between the tapes but it soon became obvious that the so-called original camcorder tape had also been tampered with, not just the copies. There were nice-sized hunks of blacked out areas on the "original" and it was missing footage that Ms. Clark saw when she viewed the tape in the prosecutor's office.

The judge then stated he would be taking all three tapes into his possession. Ms. Conroy looked like she was going to die on the spot. She fought like mad not to give up the tapes. She kept saying, "I need them to prepare for trial" and the judge kept answering, "I'll give you copies by tomorrow." She even tried to be slick and slide one of the tapes under her papers but others in the room caught it and forced her to hand that one over, too.

The judge then said that there were two issues: an evidentiary hearing and having experts examine the tapes.

On the evidentiary hearing: Ms. Conroy didn't object to it but said she did not want to give a chain of custody of who had the tapes at various points and who did the copying. The judge ruled that she would have to provide this information. There was also some arguing about who would be expected to be witnesses.

On the expert examination of the tape: Conroy objected strenuously. First because she claimed that another judge already ruled on it. Judge Bush replied that the appeals court overruled that judge. Conroy then said that if the tape is sent to an expert, "there are a million people between here and there and anything can happen." Judge Bush replied "Ms. Conroy, I'm not talking about giving the tape to a hitchhiker down by the highway and asking them to carry it somewhere in the midwest." (At this point, folks in the courtroom were pinching themselves to keep from laughing out loud!) He also said about three times that if an expert found that the tape had been changed, there would be "big trouble." Ms. Conroy then whined that examining the tape would lead to undue delay--this, after she jerked Ms. Clark around for over a month trying to keep her from getting the tape. She also complained that "all this is unnecessary for a misdemeanor charge" referring, of course to Rickey's obstructing legal process charge. However, destruction of evidence is a lot more serious than a misdemeanor!

After seeing the clownish behavior of some Hennepin County judges, it was refreshing to be in Judge Philip Bush's courtroom. He seems willing to make the rulings and take on the tough issues other judges have refused to deal with. Remember that one judge actually jumped up and ran off the bench to avoid ruling in this case. Others have sent Rickey's lawyer on a game of judicial ping-pong--judge A sent her to judge B, who sent her to judge C, who sent her back to judge A, with none of the judges actually making a ruling. By contract, it was a pleasure to observe Judge Bush's professional demeanor and actions. This guy is about business and it shows.

To help him know we are also about business, please call Judge Philip Bush at 612-348-6360 and tell him you have been following the Rickey Jones case and that justice requires that he "get the tapes examined by an expert" and "dismiss the charges against Rickey Jones." Be polite, as he has been a real pro, but let him know you are concerned and are watching.

The next step is the evidentiary hearing, which will be held in early August. As soon as that date is known, we will inform you of it so you can put it on your calendars. You're gonna want to come to court if you can--this is just way too much fun!


COMMUNITY PRESS CONFERENCE: Justice for Fregenet Tafesse Woubshet!
On Thursday, July 31st at 10:00 a.m. at the Federal Court Building, the Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali communities will be holding a collaborative press conference to call for an independent investigation into the death of Fregenet Tafesse Woubshet. All are welcome to attend.

Ms. Woubshet was killed by a car being chased by Minneapolis Police, though they are now claiming they were not involved in a chase. Some witnesses have said otherwise and newspaper versions of the event have changed over time. The community is calling for an independent investigation so that the truth can come out and so that Ms. Woubshet's family can receive at least some measure of justice for this tragedy. Ms. Woubshet was only 29 at the time of her death and had just graduated from college with a degree in accounting.


RUBIN "HURRICANE" CARTER COMING TO TOWN
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights is holding a house party fundraiser for their Death Penalty Project on Thursday, July 31st from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the home of Sam and Sylvia Kaplan, 510 River Street in Minneapolis. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter will be the guest speaker.

The story of boxer and civil rights activist Rubin Carter’s wrongful conviction and exoneration has been chronicled in book, song and film. Mr. Carter now lives in Toronto, where he is the Executive Director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted.

Attendance is by donation and they request R.S.V.P. to Beth Varro at evarro@mnadvocates.org or by phone to 612-341-3302 ext. 100. For directions or more information: http://www.mnadvocates.org


"[One of] The most absurd things about my escape from the injustice of Czechoslovakia to America was that I simply exchanged one system which oppressed opinion for another."
-- Martina Navratilova


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


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