9/3/2011 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Stronger United Conference
  • Huge Victory on Right to Film Police
  • Why are Children Being Handcuffed at School?
  • Police Sued Over Deleted Videos of Confrontation
  • SF Blocked Cell Phones to Disrupt Protest of Shooting by Transit Cops

STRONGER UNITED CONFERENCE JUST WEEKS AWAY
Where will you be on September 23-25?
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

At the end of last year, CUAPB worked with a number of groups on an amicus brief challenging the criminalization of copwatchers.  The experience was just wonderful and started us thinking about more ways to connect with groups around the country to strengthen all of our work.  From that came the idea of a national conference that will bring together organizations from across North America to discuss our strategies, compare the issues we’re facing in our local work, and build a stronger police accountability movement. CUAPB is thrilled to be hosting this national convergence, September 23-25 at Walker Church.

If you haven't registered for the conference yet, you can do so easily on our NEW website: http://cuapb.org/civicrm/event/register?id=7&reset=1  You'll also see a housing board, ride board and other resources to help you get here.  We've secured a good number of free housing spaces so just let us know what you need.  All meals, materials and events are included.

Our keynote speaker will be Michael Novick, editor of Turning the Tide: Journal of Anti-Racist Action, Research & Education and author of White Lies White Power: The Fight Against White Supremacy and Reactionary Violence."  He is a long-time activist against police brutality.  He will present on Building a Culture of Resistance Against Police Abuse of Power: Decolonization and LiberationHe will follow his talk with a workshop on De-legitimizing the Police State, Legitimizing Resistance to develop concrete solutions.

Other proposed workshops include:
*Coalition building across communities and cultures
*Constituent-led and other models of organizing
*Attacks on dissent­addressing NORTHCOM and other national plans to “suppress civil unrest”
*Know Your Rights train the trainer
*The role of police in society
*Attacks on youth­the juvenile “justice” system
*Police interactions with people labeled with psychiatric disabilities
*Police and immigrants
*Using the legal system to challenge police brutality
*Novel approaches to increasing community oversight of police
*Resisting attacks on copwatchers
*Jail support and court support
*“In the belly of the beast”­the impact of the prison industrial complex, the DOC and parole on the community
*Supporting survivors of police brutality and the families of stolen lives

Please note that some workshops will be conducted in Spanish with English translation.

For more information on the conference, go to http://cuapb.org/civicrm/event/info?id=7&reset=1


HUGE VICTORY ON RIGHT TO FILM POLICE
CUAPB Joined Six Other Organizations in Amicus Brief

CUAPB is proud to have been a part of this very important victory for the right of copwatchers to monitor and record police conduct.  The court couldn't have been more clear--videotaping cops is a First Amendment protected right, for community members and not just journalists.  To read the decision, go to http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=In%20FCO%2020110826079.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR

Federal Courts Rule it is Not Illegal to Film Police
http://technorati.com/technology/article/federal-courts-rule-it-is-not/#ixzz1WpOgd9g3

The First Court of Appeals has reached a decision that would allow the general public to video-tape police officers while they are working. This decision comes right after several well-known public cases have come to light involving citizens being arrested for video-taping police.

This specific case in question was Simon Glik vs.The City of Boston (and several police officers), in which a teenage Simon Gilk was arrested after videotaping Boston Police abusing a homeless man. While Mr. Gilk was not interfering with the police, he was arrested on wiretapping charges.

The ACLU had sued on his behalf, even when the charges were dropped, noting that there was a growing epidemic of citizens in the United States being arrested by police for videotaping, even when documenting police brutality and abuse.

The First Court Agreed with the ACLU that this should be legal, and wrote that: "The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs.”

With the rise of YouTube and other social sharing services, more and more police have been under scrutiny for their public actions and in response have taken to pressing charges against civilians for videotaping them.

Currently there are several other cases still pending around the Country, including that of Khaliah Fitchette who videotaped Newak Police abusing another passenger and was arrested, while the police erased the cell-phone.

Additionally, the case of Michael Allison has made quite a bit of news. In this case, the Illinois Attorney General is trying to impose a 75 year sentence on Mr. Allison for recording police officers who were harassing him, reportedly for filing a lawsuit against the department previously. Charges are still being pursued, even though several similar cases have been thrown out by the Courts in Illinois.

For another enthusiastic report on this victory, go to http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2011/victory-recording-public

Meanwhile, Michael Allison still faces 75 years for recording police in Illinois.  For an update on that case, go to http://mywabashvalley.com/fulltext?nxd_id=204197


WE ARE STRONGER UNITED--WHY WE NEED TO WORK HARDER AND WORK TOGETHER
Recent incidents give us all too many reasons why the Stronger United conference is sorely needed and why we have to find more and better ways to hold police accountable and push back on the police state.  Here are a few examples:

Why are Children Being Handcuffed at School?
by Annie U. June 13, 2011

According to AlterNet, students at Capital City Alternative School in Mississippi are routinely handcuffed for hours as punishment for minor misbehavior. On June 8, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit against the Jackson Public School District for allowing this type of punishment. The lawsuit was filed after the school district refused to respond to a letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center asking that this practice be stopped.

The AlterNet article gives some examples of the incidents where students were handcuffed to railings as a punishment:

  • One student was handcuffed all day for not wearing a belt. He even had to eat his lunch handcuffed.
  • Another student was handcuffed for hours for greeting a friend too loudly in the hallway.
  • A third student was handcuffed for wearing the wrong colored shoes. 


This is not the first time this has happened. There are many cases of schools using handcuffs or other restraints to punish children. Some examples include:

  • In July 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against officials at a Louisiana school for repeatedly handcuffing and shackling a 6-year-old child.
  • In May 2010, Police handcuffed a 10-year-old boy with autism at Oberon Public School in Geelong, Australia.
  • In December 2008, an 8-year-girl with Asperger’s was handcuffed because she refused to take off a sweatshirt that she wanted to wear to the Christmas party.
  • In April 2011, a 7-year-old boy was handcuffed when he became upset while decorating Easter eggs at Public School 153 in Maspeth Long Island.
  • In 2004, a 10-year-old in Philidelphia was handcuffed and taken to a police station for having scissors in her bag, even though she hadn’t threatened anyone with them or even displayed them.

These incidents are, unfortunately, even more common among children with disabilities. As our own Kristina Chew has written: “In other words, ‘abusive practices’ such as prone restraint were ‘disproportionately’ used on children who are disabled­on children whose needs and challenges, whose communicative and cognitive disabilities, are far greater than that of most.”

Jody Owens, from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office was quoted by AlterNet as saying: “Not only does this handcuffing policy violate the U.S. Constitution but it demonstrates a diseased school culture and a broken model of school discipline that focuses on criminalizing students at the expense of educating them.”

I agree with this assessment. When children across the country are being handcuffed for minor issues, it demonstrates a significant problem that needs addressing. Hopefully it will be addressed soon. Last month, Care2 s Kristina Chew wrote about the US Department of Education’s plan to issue guidelines to school districts on the use of restraints and other tactics. Hopefully making this a national issue will help to ensure that children are treated with dignity and respect in public schools.

Sign the Petition: Schools Are Not Prisons – Speak Out Against Handcufffing as Punishment.

Related stories:

US Dept of Education Will Issue Guidelines About Restraints & Seclusion in Schools


Six-Year Old Student Handcuffed: Parents File Suit Against New Orleans School

Will the Students First Act Really Put Students First?


Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/why-are-children-being-handcuffed-at-school.html#ixzz1WumKgJHT
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Police sued over deleted videos of confrontation
Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011
By SARAH BRUMFIELD - Associated Press
http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/08/31/2519790/police-sued-over-deleted-videos.html

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore police officers deleted videos from a man's mobile phone after he recorded a confrontation between officers and a female friend at the 2010 Preakness Stakes, violating his constitutional rights and wiping away a year and a half of memories of his young son, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland challenges the detention of Christopher Sharp, the seizure of his phone and the deletion of the recordings as unconstitutional. The ACLU argued that law enforcement officers in Maryland, including Baltimore police officers, "routinely threaten to arrest or punish civilians who document police activity, using the Maryland Wiretap Act and related, inapplicable infractions to back up these threats."
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SF Blocked Cell Phones to Disrupt Protest of Shooting by Transit Cops
By PAUL ELIAS - Associated Press | Aug. 12, 2011
http://news.yahoo.com/cellphones-blocked-sf-hinder-transit-protest-041114962.html

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ­ Transit officials said Friday that they blocked cellphone reception in San Francisco train stations for three hours to disrupt planned demonstrations over a police shooting.

Officials with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, better known as BART, said they turned off electricity to cellular towers in four stations from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The move was made after BART learned that protesters planned to use mobile devices to coordinate a demonstration on train platforms.

"A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators," BART officials said in a prepared statement.

The statement noted that it's illegal to demonstrate on the platform or aboard the trains. BART said it has set aside special areas for demonstrations.

The American Civil Liberties Union questioned the tactic.

"Shutting down access to mobile phones is the wrong response to political protests," the ACLU's Rebecca Farmer said in a blog post.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said on its website that "BART officials are showing themselves to be of a mind with the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak." Mubarak's regime cut Internet and cellphone services in the country for days early this year while trying to squelch protests demanding an end to his authoritarian rule.

BART officials were confident the cellphone disruptions were legal. The demonstration planned Thursday failed to develop.

"We had a commute that was safe and without disruption," said BART spokesman Jim Allison.

The demonstrators were protesting the July 3 shooting of Charles Blair Hill by BART police who claimed Hill came at them with a knife.

A July 11 demonstration disrupted service during the rush-hour commute, prompting the closing of BART's Civic Center station. Several arrests were made.


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