9/25/2007 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Stand Up for Free Speech in St. Paul
  • Copwatch for Critical Mass
  • Change in 9/29 CUAPB Meeting
  • Resisting the RNC: Town Hall Meeting
  • Justice, Where Art Thou?
  • Demetrius Cooper Court Watch
  • A Parent's Nightmare
  • Why Did Senator John Kerry Stand Idly By?
  • Larry Craig's Great Adventure: Suddenly, He's a Civil Libertarian

STAND UP FOR FREE SPEECH IN ST. PAUL

Press Conference Before St. Paul City Council Meeting
Wednesday, September 26
2:30 p.m.
St. Paul City Hall
15 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul

We've been telling you about the Minneapolis "free speech" working group that seems hell bent on creating new rules to make it harder and more expensive to protest. Well, folks, St. Paul has the same process going on, with potentially the same outcome. They have been tinkering away with various ordinance proposals that would allow groups of 1 to 150 to protest for ten minutes each hour during the RNC while ignoring the fact that for the past six months, a group has repeatedly submitted its permit application for a major antiwar demonstration on the first day of that convention.

The Coalition to March on the RNC & Stop the War will hold a press conference prior to the St. Paul City Council meeting and then will go in to the meeting and attempt to address the council. Please join this group in demanding an end to efforts to further burden free speech and an immediate approval of their permit for a major demonstration on the first day of the RNC. The Republicans are being given a year to plan their convention for 40,000 and are being given free reign to take up all kinds of public spaces for their private event. The community is being told we will not get a permit until six months prior for an event that will likely have three times as many participants as the convention, and there is an attempt to give the community only the scraps of public space that are left after the Repubs take all they want.

If you cannot come but want to show your support for free speech in St. Paul, please call or email Mayor Coleman at 651-266-8510 or mayor@ci.stpaul.mn.us and members of the city council at 651-266-8560 pr councilinfo@ci.stpaul.mn.us WE HAVE TO STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH NOW--BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!


COPWATCH FOR CRITICAL MASS

Friday, September 28
4:15 p.m.
Loring Park (by the fountain)
1382 Willow Street, Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Critical Mass bike ride has happened the last Friday of every month for the past nine years, mostly uneventfully. However, last month's ride turned into a brutality fest when MPD cops rioted, arresting 19 and abusing many more. Of the 19 arrested, only two have been formally charged and their charges were later dropped. The others are still awaiting word on charges and are trying to get their cameras, backpacks, bikes and other property back.

While we think the cops may be on their best behavior now that embarrassing video has emerged showing their awful conduct last month, we still think it's wise to take out some insurance by having copwatch present and out in force. We are especially interested in folks who have both bikes and cameras, though we will also have additional folks in cars and on foot.

We will meet at the fountain in Loring Park at 4:15 p.m. to talk to people about their rights and to let them know we will be there for them. We also want to make one last pitch for witnesses to last month's outrageous cop conduct. Please join us to ensure that the Critical Mass ride is safe. Please bring a video or still camera and a cell phone, if you have them.


CHANGE IN 9/29 CUAPB MEETING

CUAPB will not be holding our regular meeting on September 29, as we will have an off-site retreat for board members and volunteers that day. Anyone wishing to attend the meeting can call our hotline at 612-874-7867 for information on the time and location.


RESISTING THE RNC: A TOWN HALL MEETING

October 6, 2:00 p.m.
Macalester College, Weyerhauser Chapel
1600 Grand Ave, St. Paul
Cosponsored by Protest RNC 2008 and the RNC "Welcoming" Committee, this event will feature a presentation by the National Lawyers Guild on protest rights in the Twin Cities. There will be a discussion of efforts by city officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul to clamp down on free speech and what the community can do. Groups currently working on protest plans for the RNC will give presentations on how you can get involved.


JUSTICE, WHERE ART THOU?

Council on Crime and Justice
50th Anniversary Action
October 10, 8:30 a.m.
Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 Second Ave S, Minneapolis

Join the Council on Crime and Justice as they reveal the findings of a study examining policy shifts, changes in societal attitudes and other key developments in Minnesota over the past 50 years that have influenced the way our justice system works today. At the forum, a framework for Minnesota's future will be developed, one that will enhance both justice and public safety over the next 50 years.


UPCOMING COURT WATCH CASE

Demetrius Cooper
October 22, 8:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Courtroom C-1955
300 S Sixth Street, Minneapolis

Demetrius was driving on the interstate when Minneapolis cops were following someone else during a high speed chase. Apparently, the MPD lost the person they were following because when Demetrius took an exit, the cops followed him. They pulled him out of his car and beat him mercilessly then placed false charges to cover up their deeds. He was found innocent of those charges and is now suing the MPD for his injuries. This is the start of his civil trial. Not only are civil trials fascinating (much more comes out than in a criminal trial), but we want to be there to show our support for justice for Demetrius.


A PARENT'S NIGHTMARE

Cops missed bodies, dad says
Son, friend found 7 hours after crash
September 15, 2007
By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune

A Gary, IN father who found his teenage son and his son's friend dead at the scene of an accident that he said happened seven hours earlier claims police overlooked the bodies when they investigated the crash.

Arthur Smith said police failed to search the woods for his son, Brandon, 18, and his friend, Dominique Green, 18, even though the driver of the car in which they had ridden told investigators at the scene that the two had been ejected from the car.

"If they would have just taken any initiative at all, they would have found them," Smith said. "They didn't use proper procedure."

Gary police referred all questions about the crash to Cmdr. Sam Roberts, who did not return repeated phone calls Saturday. The Lake County Coroner's Office confirmed the two victims were found in a wooded area off Chase Street about 9:30 a.m. Both had been ejected in a motor-vehicle accident and died of multiple blunt-force injuries, a coroner's office spokesman said.

The bizarre chain of events began about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, when Brandon Smith, Green, and two other friends were coming home from a CD release party, said Arthur Smith, who based his account on what the driver of the car, Darius Moore, told him.

The driver lost control of the car and it crashed through a guardrail in the 2700 block of Chase Street in Gary, rolling down an embankment and coming to rest in a wooded area about 100 feet off the road, Smith said.

Moore was able to free himself from the wreckage, climb the hill and flag down a motorist, who called 911, Smith said. Gary police, firefighters and paramedics responded, treated the driver and had to extricate another victim from the front passenger seat, Smith said.

"All the time [Moore] was telling them there were two other individuals in the car, and they must have been thrown out, but they kept saying, 'There's no one here,' " Smith said.

Smith said he first heard of the accident early Saturday morning when the driver's mother called and told him her son's account of Brandon Smith and Dominique Green missing at the scene. He said at first he thought the driver was just mistaken, and that the two had left the party in a different car.

It wasn't until about 9 a.m. when someone called him and said the car was being towed out of the woods that Smith said he decided to drive over to Chase Street with two other relatives "just to take a look at the scene."

He said he was able to follow the path of the car down the embankment and could see where it had come to a stop. As he kept walking, he said, he stepped on a shoe that was on the ground and picked it up. Farther into the woods, Smith spotted another area where the weeds looked tussled, and he stood on a tree stump to get a better view.

"That's when I witnessed my son lying there all twisted up against a tree, and about 10 feet away there was the other boy," Smith said. He said he called police immediately, and when they arrived, they would not discuss whether the woods had been thoroughly searched.

Smith said police were more concerned about the shoe he had picked up in the woods and was still clutching in his hand.

"The only thing they said to me, and it was in a messed-up tone, was, 'Where did you get that shoe from?' and, 'You better put it back about where you found it,' " Smith said. "I threw it at them. I said, 'I'm looking at my son and his friend dead and you're worried about where I found a damn shoe?' "

Moore was still hospitalized Saturday night but did not suffer life-threatening injuries, according to Smith. The other passenger was reportedly in critical condition, he said.

Green's father said in a telephone interview that he was unaware his son had been killed until Smith notified him Saturday morning.

Willie Green said he did not know where his son was coming from or who else was in the car.

Smith said Moore was issued a citation at the scene.

"To me that was total negligence," Green said. "If you can take the time to issue a citation, you can take the time to look around and see if there's anybody else there."

Smith said his son and Dominique Green were both seniors at West Side High School in Gary.


WHY DID SENATOR JOHN KERRY STAND IDLY BY?

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
September 19, 2007
http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts09192007.html

Naive Americans who think they live in a free society should watch the video filmed by students at a John Kerry speech September 17, Constitution Day, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

At the conclusion of Kerry’s speech, Andrew Meyer, a 21-year old journalism student was selected by Senator Kerry to ask a question. Meyer held up a copy of BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast’s book, Armed Madhouse, and asked if Kerry was aware that Palast’s investigations determined that Kerry had actually won the election. Why, Meyer asked, had Kerry conceded the election so quickly when there were so many obvious examples of vote fraud? Why, Meyer, went on to ask, was Kerry refusing to consider Bush’s impeachment when Bush was about to initiate another act of military aggression, this time against Iran?

At this point the public’s protectors ­the police­ decided that Meyer had said too much. They grabbed Meyer and began dragging him off. Meyer said repeatedly, “I have done nothing wrong,” which under our laws he had not. He threatened no one and assaulted no one.

But the police decided that Meyer, an American citizen, had no right to free speech and no constitutional protection. They threw him to the floor and tasered him right in front of Senator Kerry and the large student audience, who captured on video the unquestionable act of police brutality. Meyer was carted off and jailed on a phony charge of “disrupting a public event.”

The question we should all ask is why did a United States Senator just stand there while Gestapo goons violated the constitutional rights of a student participating in a public event, brutalized him in full view of everyone, and then took him off to jail on phony charges?

Kerry’s meekness not only in the face of electoral fraud, not only in the face of Bush’s wars that are crimes under the Nuremberg standard, but also in the face of police goons trampling the constitutional rights of American citizens makes it completely clear that he was not fit to be president, and he is not fit to be a US senator.

Usually when police violate constitutional rights and commit acts of police brutality they do it when they believe no one is watching, not in front of a large audience. Clearly, the police have become more audacious in their abuse of rights and citizens. What explains the new fearlessness of police to violate rights and brutalize citizens without cause?

The answer is that police, most of whom have authoritarian personalities, have seen that constitutional rights are no longer protected. President Bush does not protect our constitutional rights. Neither does Vice President Cheney, nor the Attorney General, nor the US Congress. Just as Kerry allowed Meyer’s rights to be tasered out of him, Congress has enabled Bush to strip people, including American citizens, of constitutional protection and incarcerate them without presenting evidence.

How long before Kerry himself or some other senator will be dragged from his podium and tasered?

The Bush Republicans with complicit Democrats have essentially brought government accountability to an end in the US. The US government has 80,000 people, including ordinary American citizens, on its “no-fly list.” No one knows why they are on the list, and no one on the list can find out how to get off it. An unaccountable act by the Bush administration put them there.

Airport Security harasses and abuses people who do not fit any known definition of terrorist. Nalini Ghuman, a British-born citizen and music professor at Mills College in California was met on her return from a trip to England by armed guards at the airplane door and escorted away. A Gestapo goon squad tore up her US visa, defaced her British passport, body searched her, and told her she could leave immediately for England or be sent to a detention center.

Professor Ghuman, an Oxford University graduate with a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, says she feels like the character in Kafka’s book, The Trial. “I don’t know why it’s happened, what I’m accused of. There’s no opportunity to defend myself. One is just completely powerless.” Over one year later there is still no answer.

The Bush Republicans and their Democratic toadies have, in the name of “security,” made all of us powerless. While Senator John Kerry and his Democratic colleagues stand silently, the Bush administration has stolen our country from us and turned us into subjects.

*The video of Andrew’s Mayer’s arrest may be found at http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?filmID=601

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com


LARRY CRAIG'S GREAT ADVENTURE: SUDDENLY, HE'S A CIVIL LIBERTARIAN

By Adam Cohen
September 24, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/24/opinion/24mon4.html?ref=opinion

Senator Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho, will ask a judge this week to reverse his conviction for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. He should prevail. Mr. Craig did nothing illegal, and the law he was convicted under should be held unconstitutional.

It is hard, though, to be entirely sympathetic. Mr. Craig, who is asking the court to take the extraordinarily pro-defendant step of undoing his guilty plea, has been a rubber stamp for the Bush administration’s drive to stock the courts with judges who have utter contempt for civil liberties ­ and for claims like his own.

After his arrest, Mr. Craig was called hypocritical for his longstanding opposition to gay rights in Congress. His legal defense, though, presents a different inconsistency. He joins a long list of conservatives who believe in a fair legal system only for themselves.

Mr. Craig pleaded guilty to a dubious charge of disorderly conduct after under-the-stall toe-tapping and shoe-bumping with an undercover police officer. His gestures may have been moving toward an illegal act ­ of sexual indecency in a public place or prostitution ­ but it is hard to see what crime he committed by sending coded signals to a seemingly willing participant.

The American Civil Liberties Union has come to Mr. Craig’s defense. It says the law he was convicted under ­ criminalizing “offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct” that tends to “alarm, anger or disturb others” ­ is unconstitutionally vague, and makes a lot of perfectly harmless speech illegal. It’s right. If boisterous conduct that disturbs others is a crime in Minnesota, the state must be planning mass arrests of the speakers at the 2008 Republican National Convention, which is being held in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Mr. Craig has a particularly hard case to make because he signed a guilty plea, which he now wants to withdraw ­ something courts rarely allow. He claims he signed in “a state of intense anxiety,” in an attempt to keep news of the arrest from getting out. To succeed, he will have to show that he suffered a “manifest injustice.”

It is an odd claim for him to make. Mr. Craig has consistently voted for President Bush’s judicial nominees, helping the far right to fill the federal courts with judges who are strikingly unmoved by claims of injustice. These Bush judges are not merely legal conservatives; ­ they have been on a hard-driving campaign to weaken or undo protections that are basic to the American system of justice.

The court’s remarkable ruling this year in Bowles v. Russell showed how far things have gone. An Ohio man challenged his criminal conviction by the deadline set by a federal judge. The Supreme Court ruled that the judge had erred by a few days ­ and that the man had therefore lost his right to have his challenge heard. The four liberal justices rightly said in dissent that “it is intolerable for the judicial system to treat people this way.”

Mr. Craig is hardly alone in deciding that he likes defendants’ rights after he became a defendant. Among law-and-order conservatives, it’s the norm. Oliver North got his Iran-contra convictions thrown out, with the ACLU’s help, on a relative technicality. This year, an official of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, James Tobin, got his conviction for jamming Democratic Party lines in New Hampshire on Election Day reversed on a fine point about what his “purpose” was.

It would be gratifying if conservatives who saw the legal system’s flaws up close were changed by the experience. After all, as the joke goes, a liberal is just a conservative who has been arrested. But more often, they carve out an exception to their tough-on-crime philosophy, just for themselves.

Early in her career, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas was indicted on charges of using public employees for personal and political matters. She beat the charges, and blamed a prosecutor she said had a partisan agenda. But when the United States attorney scandal broke this year ­ with its substantial evidence of political prosecutions ­ Ms. Hutchison was quick to dismiss it as “a lot of to-do about nothing.”

Mr. Craig returned to the Senate last week. One of the first votes he cast was to support a Republican effort to block court access for detainees, people who have not gotten to see a judge or enter a plea at all.

The best thing that Mr. Craig has going for him may be that his case is being heard by a Minnesota state court, not a federal one. The last kind of judge Mr. Craig would want to appear before is one with the harsh legal philosophy he and his Republican colleagues have been foisting on the rest of us.


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