8/11/2005 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Stolen Lives Film Every Mother's Son Nominated for Emmy
  • New MN Law Criminalizes Reporting Police Brutality
  • McManus' Failure to Discipline Ensures Lack of Accountability
  • Role of Local Media in Police Incidents

 

EVERY MOTHER'S SON NOMINATED FOR EMMY
The documentary film Every Mother's Son, which directors Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson made as a gift to the movement, has been nominated for an Emmy for best directing.  It's exciting that movement film has gotten such a distinction; it's even more exciting that a film directed by two women has gotten this recognition.    Come to the Twin Cities premier of this wonderful film and see for yourself what the fuss is about.

Meal and a Movie: Every Mother's Son
Saturday, August 13th
6:30 p.m.
MayDay Books, 301 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis
$5 - $10 donation at the door
Join us for the Twin Cities' premier showing of the film Every Mother's Son.  In the late 1990s, three victims of police brutality made headlines around the country: Amadou Diallo, the young West African man whose killing sparked intense public protest; Anthony Baez, killed in an illegal choke-hold; and Gary (Gidone) Busch, a Hasidic Jew shot and killed outside his Brooklyn home. "Every Mother's Son" tells of the victims' three mothers who came together to demand justice and accountability and who sparked a national movement.

As you view this powerful film, we will be serving a delicious "picnic style" dinner of cool summer delights.  Lydia Howell, well-known cook to the movement, will provide the meal and host this event, which is a fundraiser for CUAPB.


NEW LAW CRIMINALIZES REPORTING POLICE BRUTALITY TO COPS
In a very sneaky move, the Minnesota legislature passed a new law criminalizing so-called "false" reporting of police brutality and misconduct to any "peace officer whose responsibilities include investigating or reporting police misconduct."  While this means any cop, since all are supposed to report police misconduct, THIS REALLY MEANS INTERNAL AFFAIRS.  This law went into effect August 1, 2005.  It can be seen here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/newlawsart.asp?yearid=2005&storyid=220 look for Art. 17, Sec. 30.

The legislature tried this same move last year but we were able to block it during committee hearings.  This year, they didn't bother with any committee hearings.  They simply slid it into the middle of the gazillion page long omnibus crime bill and then ran it through the finance committee for hearings.

The implications of this law are terrible.  First, who decides what constitutes false reporting.  Is it Internal Affairs?  In Minneapolis, Internal Affairs has upheld TWO complaints from community members in a 10-year period.  Does that mean the other complaints were false?  We doubt it.

Secondly, complaining about police brutality and misconduct and seeking redress from the government is a First Amendment protected right.  Why are people affected by police brutality being singled out and stripped of their constitutional rights?  Why are cops in some special category that makes them beyond criticism?

The bottom line:  If an incident occurs with Minneapolis police, DO NOT REPORT IT TO INTERNAL AFFAIRS as this can be dangerous to your legal health.  Instead, either report it to the Civilian Review Authority but know that the cops will probably not be disciplined (see below) or consider getting a private attorney and suing the cops.  If the incident occurs with any other police department in the state, where there are no Civilian Review Authorities to report to, call out hotline at 612-874-7867 and we will try to guide you on a case by case basis.


MCMANUS' FAILURE TO DISCIPLINE ENSURES LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Through public data from the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority, CUAPB has learned that Minneapolis police chief William McManus appears to be systematically failing to issue discipline in cases that agency has sustained.  You can see a copy of our report at http://www.charityadvantage.com/CUAPB/images/McManusCRAComplaints.pdf

In the last 26 cases sustained by the CRA (through July 2005), McManus issued "discipline" in only two of those cases, and then only slaps on the wrist: oral reprimand in one case and a letter of reprimand in the other.  Most of the 26 cases were marked "no discipline--disagreed with finding."  This action, in essence, renders the work of the CRA moot by allowing McManus to overrule their findings.  This was never the intent of the ordinance that governs the Civilian Review Authority.  Under that ordinance, the CRA has the power to investigate and issue rulings and the chief is supposed to uphold those rulings and issue discipline or report back IN SPECIFIC TERMS why he or she did not do so.  Just not liking the findings of the CRA isn't an option.

This is precisely what some of us who worked on the CRA redesign a few years ago worried about--the city was all about tinkering with a few internal processes but never wanted to give the CRA the teeth it really needs to do it's job: subpoena power and the power to issue discipline based on a point system or, at minimum, the power to recommend specific discipline with the chief having to say why if they don't follow the recommendation.  By not giving the CRA that power, the city council has created the current situation--a sneaky chief who shuns accountability exploiting a loophole to subvert the efforts of the CRA.

In light of a new law that criminalizes reporting of police brutality and misconduct to the police themselves if the incident can't be proven (and, trust us, the cops aren't going to go out of their way to help you prove it), this move by McManus to ignore the findings of the CRA makes it a lot more difficult for people experiencing police brutality in Minneapolis to get any relief and enables brutal cops to continue their ways with no accountability.

If this issue concerns you, give Chief McManus a call at 612-673-2853 or email him at williammcmanus@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.  Perhaps he needs to hear from the community about his actions.  After all, even the chief needs some accountability.


EXAMPLE OF LOCAL MEDIA ROLE IN POLICE INCIDENTS
Isn't it interesting that whenever an incident arises that points to possible police brutality or misconduct, the public, through the media, is asked to stay calm and wait for the results of some mythical investigation, the results of which are generally never published or heard about again?  Yet when an incident involves the death of a community member at the hands of police, the media are quick to aid and abet police in smearing the dead person's reputation and ensuring that no real investigation will happen--adding to the distress of the grieving family.

The article below is a classic example, except in this case the media outlet in question gets a two for one: they get to bolster the MPD version of an incident (by reporting what the Star Tribune said about it!) while also mocking the concerns of the Green Party candidate for mayor.  Note how easily this "news" piece slides into being an opinion piece on "whether [Hakeem's] approach would have worked in criminal pursuits..."  Wonder if the writer got bonus pay for that.

Green's mayoral candidate reacts to Rybak budget
By Scott Russell
Skyway News,
http://www.skywaynews.net/articles/2005/08/09/news/news04.txt

Farheen Hakeem, the Green Party endorsed candidate for mayor, is criticizing Mayor R.T. Rybak's proposed 2006 budget for devoting too much new money to adding police.

Shortly after Rybak delivered his budget address July 28, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, another mayoral challenger, criticized him for doing too little, too late, shortchanging the Police Department.

Hakeem called Rybak's decision to use $4.3 million in new local government aid (LGA) to hire police, "very much a political move on his part and not looking at the health of the city."

She said, "There is a whole bunch of other sections of the city that could use that money - Library Board, Park Board, Fire Department, Health and Family Support," even debt reduction.

Hakeem also noted the city is getting hit with a 21 percent in health and dental insurance hike. That means an increase of $7.7 million in 2006 city health care costs, from $36.2 million to $43.9 million. She said it was a good argument to lobby for universal health care.

While McLaughlin blamed the Rybak administration's police cuts for a recent 55 percent increase in homicides and delayed 911 response, Hakeem argued against hiring more officers, saying there is no proof that more police officers means less crime.

Rybak has blamed previous police cuts mostly on state and federal aid cuts. When state aid was partially restored, he added more cops.

Hakeem praised the mayor's decision to budget $60,000 for a Tubman Family Alliance mental health clinician to support police officers responding to domestic violence issues. Instead of hiring more police, she said the new LGA money could have been better spent on mental health workers to help police deal with mentally ill people.

She cited as an example a recent stabbing/shooting incident at Franklin and Lyndale avenues.

As Hakeem explained it, police were arresting a mentally ill person. "As he was getting arrested, he took out the knife and stabbed each police officer in the leg," she said.

If the police had a mental health worker, they could have called that person to intervene, "before this person got excited," she said. That case worker could talk the person down, ask for the knife and tell them: "The police are going to take you Downtown right now and talk to you for a little while."

Hakeem said she has an autistic brother. "When I calmly explain things, about where we are going and what we are doing and how long it takes, he cooperates," she said. "But if you just up and take him somewhere or grab him, he gets very upset."

Whether such an approach would have worked in criminal pursuits is unclear.

According to the Aug. 3 Star Tribune report on the shooting/stabbing incident:

Minneapolis police responded to a reported robbery at the Money Center, 2006 Lyndale Ave. S. Aug. 1. Two officers arrived within a minute of the call and saw Ricky Redin running from the store.

They tackled him after a short chase. After Redin stabbed both officers and refused to drop the knife, one of the officers shot and killed him, the paper said.

Redin was a wanted sex offender and had a long criminal record, the paper reported.
___________________________________________________________
Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)


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