9/8/2009 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Krazy Kop Kapers
    • State Pulls Plug on Metro Gang Strike Task Force--The Implosion Begins 5/20
    • How Dare You Sue the Cops!--Retaliatory Traffic Stop 6/20
    • Derryl Jenkins Footage Hits the Airwaves 8/15
    • Half a Mill for Eldridge Chatman 8/28
    • Gang Strike Task Force Member Files Whistleblower Suit 8/31
    • Drunken Softball Debauchery 8/31
    • Nicholas Kastner Footage Hits the Airwaves 9/4
  • How much does all of this cost, and what can we do about it?
  • Look What Happens When We Don't Reign In the Cops
  • Courtwatch for Max Specktor
  • Rescheduled Hearing for RNC 8
  • RNC Tactics Weren't New: The Case of the Biodevastation 7

Folks, it's time for more KRAZY KOP KAPERS!

Seems like every time you crack open the paper or flip on the TV news, there's another story about a bone-headed move by our local cops. So many, in fact, that you might be having trouble keeping up. For your edification, here's a rundown over the last few months. Whilst all this is going on, the Strib has run two letters to the editor and one op-ed piece in the last two weeks from Timmy Dolan telling us his kops are "better than ever." Really?

It's not like the city council and mayor didn't know. $14.5 mill in settlements and judgements over the last four years might have been a clue. Then, of course, all of us pesky activists have been shouting it from the rafters. But taking action to reign in the cops would have required going up against the federation--an anathema to the local "leadership" especially in an election season.

State Pulls Plug on Metro Gang Strike Task Force--The Implosion Begins 5/20

After the state legislative auditor's May 20th report exposed widespread illegal seizures of money and property--and at least 18 vehicles and tens of thousands of dollars missing--the state finally got around to shutting down the task force but not before word spread to the officers and they hightailed it to headquarters to shred documents after disabling the badge access system. Given the predictability of this conduct, why commissioner Michael Campion didn't change the locks and post guards outside headquarters to prevent evidence destruction is anyone's guess. A second report was released 8/20 by former prosecutor Andy Luger (same dude who produced the whitewash on police conduct during the RNC) and retired FBI agent John Egelhof, though they were hamstrung by lack of subpoena power and the lack of documentation after all those records were shredded. Despite this, the report outlines widespread theft of seized property by cops for personal use, seizure of money and property such as cars, TVs and jewelry from people not involved in gang activity, narcotics never entered into evidence, two throw-down guns found in the office, etc. The report can be seen here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2009/08/20090820_gangstrikeforce.pdf The FBI has announced an investigation of 14 officers--half from the Minneapolis PD and close to half from the St. Paul PD, however the names have not been revealed to the public. At least one person charged by members of the MGSTF has been acquitted after the jury found testimony by the officers not credible.

How Dare You Sue the Cops!--Retaliatory Traffic Stop 6/20

Attorney Damon Ward was followed by Minneapolis cops for miles after he deposed two of their "brothers in blue" in a federal police brutality suit. Ward, who is black, was pulled over in his own driveway by two white MPD cops. Concerned for his safety, he called his sister, Cassandra Ward-Brown, who is assistant general council for the Minneapolis School District. The pretext for the stop was an alleged illegal turn. Cop Shawn Kelly arrested Ward for "acting bizarre" after Ward raised the specter that the stop was racial profiling. Ward-Brown was ticketed for obstructing legal process (OLP) by Aaron Morrison, a defendant in the suit. Keep in mind that OLP is the favorite charge leveled by cops who are doing wrong. Ward and Ward-Brown are suing the MPD over this incident.

Derryl Jenkins Footage Hits the Airwaves 8/15

Disturbing video of an incident that occurred in February hit the airwaves mid-August. The video shows six Minneapolis police officers punching and kicking Derryl Jenkins after a traffic stop. The MSNBC story and video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOKx97DZMFQ This editor saw Jenkins shortly after the beating and was appalled at his condition. After the severe beating, Jenkins was jailed for four days charged with felony assault and gross misdemeanor refusal to submit to alcohol testing. The charges were later dropped. As is usual in these cases, a supervisor reviewed the video but no cops had been charged or disciplined. Now the MPD is scrambling to cover its tracks. Jenkins is a highly educated professional whose goal in releasing the footage is to promote police accountability. He may get his wish as the FBI is now investigating. So far, he has not sued.

Half a Mill for Eldridge Chatman 8/28

The city council agreed to settle with Eldridge Chatman, who was savagely beaten by MPD cop Craig Taylor and required two brain surgeries as a result. Chatman happened upon a raid in progress in his apartment building. Taylor and another cop "moved him out of the way" violently then lied about it in their police reports. If anything, the city got off cheap.

Gang Strike Task Force Member Files Whistleblower Suit 8/31

Sgt. Kelly O'Rourke, no stranger to police thuggery himself, has filed a lawsuit claiming he tried to out the dirty cops on the Metro Gang Strike Task Force back in 2007 but no one would listen and, instead, he was retaliated against. Strange that he never thought about going public with his allegations until he was accused in the media of taking home an ice auger from the MGSTF office that had been stolen from a community member.

Drunken Softball Debauchery 8/31

MPD Internal Affairs is being kept pretty busy these days. Now they've got to investigate members of the MPD softball team who showed up after a game rip-roaring drunk to the Double Deuce strip club in Northeast Minneapolis--so drunk the bouncer wouldn't let them in. They started flashing their badges and one cop is caught on film peeing on the building in retaliation. The crew then stumbled down (or drove?) to Mayslak's Bar and picked fights with the patrons, saying that no one could stop them because they are cops. A passerby who tried to break up one of the fights was beaten by the cops. Interestingly, on duty cops arrived at the scene but no police report was ever filed.

Nicholas Kastner Footage Hits the Airwaves 9/4

This latest video release shows Kastner, a passenger in a car that was allegedly involved in burglarizing cars in a parking ramp, sprawled on the floor of the ramp, arms spread eagle, when officers Sherry Appeldorn and Joseph Will kicked and stomped him on his back multiple times before tasing him twice. Appeldorn claimed that Kastner refused to get on the ground, though the video clearly proves that's a lie. Kastner is now suing the MPD for an undisclosed amount. Kastner's lawyer, Fred Goetz, told the Star Tribune, "It's not isolated conduct. You have two incidents captured on videotape. How many times is it not captured?"

How much does all of this cost, and what can we do about it?

Much has been said about the high cost of settlements and judgements faced by taxpayers. However, a little-noticed report released by the MPD to the city council runs down overtime by the top 25 officers. The list is a veritable roster of brutal cops. Apparently if you abuse people, you are rewarded with overtime. The report can be seen at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2009-meetings/20090828/docs/MPD_OvertimeUpdate_RCA.pdf While the report suggests that the MPD has taken measures to reduce overtime (compared to 2008 with the RNC and 2007 with the bridge collapse), perhaps a greater savings could be realized by simply banning brutal cops from doing overtime and off-duty work--or, better yet--getting them completely off the payroll.

Another action item that is gaining some traction is CUAPB's call to require police officers to carry their own professional liability insurance, much as doctors, nurses and others currently do. Insurance companies would soon grow weary of paying the claims and defending brutal cops in court, rendering certain officers uninsurable and removing them from the force. This would also remove the burden from the city's general fund and, thus, from taxpayers. After all, why should we continue to fund our own oppression?

Other ideas that have been floated include having community input into the police officer's labor contract, an elected police commission that would oversee both the chief and the CRA, paying settlements and judgements from the police department budget or even out of individual officer's pension funds. At a time in which the city has taken action to lock down access to CRA complaints, we also need much more transparency. Perhaps with elections for the mayor and city council on the horizon, some of these ideas will finally be given serious consideration. If not, there's always the possibility of federal receivership.


LOOK WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DON'T REIGN IN THE COPS

Okay, this may seem extreme but when considered against the long list above as well as incidents such as the beating of a man a few years ago by a drunk off-duty Minneapolis cop who drove the wrong way down a one-way street, just about anything seems possible. Maybe we shouldn't let cops bring guns into court.

Fire chief shot by cop in Ark. court over tickets
By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press
Thu Sep 3, 7:41 pm ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090903/ap_on_re_us/us_shot_in_court

JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn't hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps.

The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

Payne ended up in the hospital, but his shooting last week brought to a boil simmering tensions between residents of this tiny former cotton city and their police force. Drivers quickly learn to slow to a crawl along the gravel roads and the two-lane highway that run through Jericho, but they say sometimes that isn't enough to fend off the city ticketing machine.

"You can't even get them to answer a call because normally they're writing tickets," said Thomas Martin, chief investigator for the Crittenden County Sheriff's Department. "They're not providing a service to the citizens."

Now the police chief has disbanded his force "until things calm down," a judge has voided all outstanding police-issued citations and sheriff's deputies are asking where all the money from the tickets went. With 174 residents, the city can keep seven police officers on its rolls but missed payments on police and fire department vehicles and saw its last business close its doors a few weeks ago.

"You can't even buy a loaf of bread, but we've got seven police officers," said former resident Larry Harris, who left town because he said the police harassment became unbearable.

Sheriff's deputies patrolled Jericho until the 1990s, when the city received grant money to start its own police force, Martin said.

Police often camped out in the department's two cruisers along the highway that runs through town, waiting for drivers who failed to slow down when they reached the 45 mph zone ringing Jericho. Residents say the ticketing got out of hand.

"When I first moved out here, they wrote me a ticket for going 58 mph in my driveway," 75-year-old retiree Albert Beebe said.

The frequent ticketing apparently led to the vandalization of the cruisers, and the department took to parking the cars overnight at the sheriff's department eight miles away.

It was anger over traffic tickets that brought Payne to city hall last week, said his lawyer, Randy Fishman. After Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed on Aug. 27, police gave Payne or his son another ticket that day. Payne, 39, returned to court to vent his anger to Judge Tonya Alexander, Fishman said.

It's unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.

Doctors in Memphis, Tenn., removed a .40-caliber bullet from Payne's hip bone, Martin said. Another officer suffered a grazing wound to his finger from the bullet.

Martin declined to name the officer who shot Payne. It's unclear if the officer has been disciplined.

Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley said Thursday that he didn't plan to file any felony charges against the officer or Payne. Fairley, reached at his home, said Payne could face a misdemeanor charge stemming from the scuffle, but that would be up to the city's judge. He said he didn't remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.

Payne remains in good condition at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. He referred questions to his lawyer.

"I know that he was unarmed and I know he was shot," Fishman said. "None of that sounds too good for the city to me."

After the shooting, Martin said police chief Willie Frazier told the sheriff's department he was disbanding the police force "until things calm down." The sheriff's department has been patrolling the town in the meantime.

A call to a city hall number listed as Frazier's went to a fax machine. Frazier did not respond to a written request for comment sent to his office.

Alexander, the judge, has voided all the tickets written by the department both inside the city and others written outside of its jurisdiction ­ citations that the department apparently had no power to write. Alexander, who works as a lawyer in West Memphis, resigned as Jericho's judge in the aftermath of the shooting, Fairley said. She did not return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, sheriff's deputies want to know where the money from the traffic fines went. Martin said that it appeared the $150 tickets weren't enough to protect the city's finances. Sheriff's deputies once had to repossess one of the town's police cruisers for failure to pay on a lease, and the state Forestry Commission recently repossessed one of the city's fire trucks because of nonpayment.

City hall has been shuttered since the shooting, and any records of how the money was spent are apparently locked inside. No one answered when a reporter knocked on the door on Tuesday.

Mayor Helen Adams declined to speak about the shooting when approached outside her home, saying she had just returned from a doctor's appointment and couldn't talk.

"We'll get with you after all this comes through," Adams said Tuesday before shutting the door.

A white Ford Crown Victoria sat in her driveway with "public property" license plates. A sales brochure advertising police equipment sat in the back seat of the car.


COURT WATCH OPPORTUNITIES

Max Specktor in Court September 29

In advance of the upcoming hearing for all of the RNC 8, Max Specktor will be in court at 9am on Tuesday, September 29. Max and his lawyer Larry Leventhal will argue a motion to suppress evidence regarding the contents of the vehicle in which he was a passenger when the vehicle was searched without a warrant on September 1, 2008.

Come support Max at the first hearing since early this spring! It's in room 1040 of the Ramsey County Courthouse at 15 W. Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul. Arrive early and look for the Defend the RNC 8 t-shirts! For questions about getting there or anything else, email us at info@rnc8.org.

Rescheduled Hearing: Rally and Court Solidarity for the 8 on October 8

Originally slated for August and then cancelled at the last minute, the RNC 8's scheduling and motion hearing has been rescheduled for Thursday, October 8 at 9am in room 1040 of the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul. Once again - barring further delays - all of the RNC 8 and their attorneys will be in attendance. Please join them!

We're sticking to our original plan:

The RNC 8 Defense Committee will sponsor a rally outside the courthouse at 15 West Kellogg Boulevard from 8:15-9am on October 8, before we head upstairs to pack the courtroom. To carpool from Minneapolis, meet at Walker Church (3100 16th Ave S.) at 7:30 sharp. Otherwise, the courthouse is near several bus routes from Minneapolis, including the 16, 21, 50 and 94. For updates, sign up for our twitter feed by texting "follow defendthernc8" to 40404.

At the hearing itself, the 8's motion to be tried together rather than separately will likely be addressed. Other motions may be raised as well, and future dates will be set. Judge Warner may or may not rule on the motions immediately.

It's been more than a year since the RNC, and our community has proven that court solidarity works. Show yours! Help remind Judge Warner, Ramsey County Attorney and DFL Governor candidate Susan Gaertner, and the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office that the RNC 8 are not criminals and that prosecuting activists is a disgrace! Join us on the morning of Thursday, October 8.

Remember that nothing that could be construed as a weapon - such as scissors or tools - are allowed in the courthouse and that all bags may be searched, so check them before you leave. It's now been seven months since the last hearing - bring your friends and let's show how much support for the RNC 8 has grown.

For more info, email us at info@rnc8.org.


RNC TACTICS WEREN'T NEW

There have been a whole bevy of RNC one year anniversary articles in the local media. One of the best media packages is here: http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2009/08/28/saintpaul_rnc_one_year_later_press_packet.pdf George Schulz' MinnPost articles on police tactics are also quite good: http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2009/09/01/11198/assessing_rnc_police_tactics_missteps_poor_judgments_and_inappropriate_detentions and http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2009/09/02/11256/looking_back_at_gop_convention_police_kicked_into_disruption_mode Since the subject has been pretty thoroughly explored by the popular media, we thought we would share with you an article that shows how the tactics employed by cops during the RNC are right out of the playbook of previous events. Many have said that these tactics were launched as the Miami Model during the FTAA protests of November 2003. With each reinactment, cops seem to be getting sloppier with the Bill of Rights.

The Case of the Biodevastation 7
What the Police Won't Apologize For

By DON FITZ
CounterPunch
September 4-6, 2009

In early September, St. Louis police will send an apology for their illegal arrest of biodiversity activists. Be assured that it will not mention their role in destroying public dialogue on dangers of genetically contaminated food.

On August 24, 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Eastern Missouri announced that the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners would pay $13,500 to each of four anti-genetic engineering activists for violating their first and fourth amendment rights and would apologize to them for police actions in May, 2003. [1] That was when several hundred people gathered to protest the World Agricultural Forum [WAF] and hold the 7th Biodevastation Gathering to expose the racist use of genetic engineering in agriculture.

But the letter of apology is highly unlikely to address the most serious aspects of the repression. Do not expect the letter to say anything about helping to consolidate control of world agriculture and throwing 1 billion people off of small farms. Don't look for the letter to mention the role of police in attempts to force genetically contaminated food on Africans with immuno-compromised health. And don't be surprised if the letter contains not a word about St. Louis police entering into a conspiracy with Monsanto, the FBI and corporate media to eliminate public discussion of the potential threats of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

St. Louis police were not stand-alone players. As Daniel (digger) Romano wrote in the August 31 St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Allied Intelligence [is] the private security agency hired by the WAF and its principle player, Monsanto, the biotech giant. Allied Intelligence told police '50,000 anarchists' were coming to St. Louis to riot and wreak havoc on the city". [2]

The police apology will certainly misdirect attention onto its own illegal and repulsive behavior of May, 2003: warrantless entry into a home where a woman was subjected to "an unlawful and humiliating strip search," a second warrantless entry under the false claim of the building being condemned, and arresting several activists for "riding a bicycle without a license," a crime which did not exist. [1]

Under the FBI Eye

Preparations for the Biodevastation 7 Gathering started in 2002 when Jim Scheff, an organizer for the Missouri Forest Alliance, called to tell me that the WAF would be meeting in St. Louis the upcoming year. He suggested that Biodevastation, which had been held in five cities after beginning in St. Louis in 1998, return to Monsanto's home town so that people coming to WAF could hear a different view of biotechnology.

Documents obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that the FBI was deeply involved in scrutinizing many documents that I wrote for the event, including emails from my computer. The ACLU judged the FBI reports to be some "of the most troubling documents we received". [3]

A November 2005 cover letter from the FBI refers to "Subject: GATEWAY GREEN ALLIANCE/01012000 TO PRESENT," indicating that we had been in FBI sights for years. [4] Its first memo on "Counterterrorism" asserted that "The WAF was created to provide a continuing, neutral arena for the discussion of world agriculture". Counterposed to the "neutral" WAF, the memo warned of "issue-specific terrorist groups which oppose the bio-engineering of plants and animals". [5]

What particularly worried authors of the memo was that "organizers from the Gateway Green Alliance, a local affiliate of the Green Party USA, have joined with member of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and are attempting to label the WAF as a 'forum on environmental racism' in an attempt to lure African-American groups". [5] (The authors probably meant to say "Biodevastation" rather than "WAF".)

The memo observed that "no specific threats of violence or unlawful protest have been received". But its authors were disturbed that "protest organizers" might be "able to successfully promote a racial element to the forum". [5]

Other FBI counterterrorism documents listed frightening people who hoped to speak at St. Louis, including Vandana Shiva, Percy Schmeiser, Mae-Wan Ho, Brian Tokar, Ignacio Chapela and Michael Hansen. [6] Any defender of the Public Order must have been horrified to read in the captured documents of the threat to national security posed by the Caravan Across the Continent held in conjunction with Biodevastation: "The Caravan will be a month-long bicycle spectacle covering over 1000 puppet shows, presentations, speak-outs, freak-outs, clown acts, and music". It invited "citizens, clowns, puppeteers, bike riders, messengers, farmers" and urged everyone "to bring a bicycle and join the ride!" [7]

The FBI was most traumatized by information that "The May 2003 Biodevastation Gathering will be the cutting edge event defining links between racism and the biotechnology industry". Documents monitored by its sleuths uncovered plans for the event to "focus attention on efforts" to use "Food Aide as a weapon of narrow economic interests and to force genetically contaminated food on Africa". [5]

Luckily, the FBI did not stand alone in efforts to protect good citizens. FOIA reports confirm that the FBI had "been working with local police agencies to collect intelligence related to the WAF". [7] Not content to rely on local police, the FBI proudly documented collaboration with the private sector:

Corporate officials from Monsanto who monitor the Biodev website (www.biodev.org) allege that the speakers at the Biodev conference are against genetic engineering of any type, that they are outspoken critics of Monsanto and are extreme in their views. [7]

A Public Dialogue Cut Short

During weeks prior to Biodevastation 7, there were a few stories about the dangers of GMOs, but St. Louis media focused on police preparation for 50,000 anarchists to invade downtown. They warned business owners to protect their property.

Then, on the opening day of Biodevastation 7, the Mother of All Horrors occurred: There was an actual public debate on genetic engineering! The only St. Louis daily paper, the Post-Dispatch, carried a front page story, "Focus on the future of agriculture". It had an article describing the corporate view of the WAF on one side and another article reporting on Biodevastation on the other.

Not to worry. St. Louis police, with backup from the FBI and Monsanto, had worked overtime to ensure that reporting would take a sharp turn. Shortly after I got to the Gathering site and prepared to coordinate presentations, phone calls began pouring in that demonstrators were being arrested all over town.

Members of the Flying Rutabaga Bicycle Circus were arrested for the fictitious crime of "riding a bicycle without a license". About the same time, a building inspector nailed a "condemned" sign on a St. Louis home just before police pushed through the door and arrested those who had been planning to take part in weekend protests. They were charged with "inhabiting a condemned building".

Two hours later, police raided the Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP) building, which housed the St. Louis Independent Media Center, Green Party of St. Louis and several other groups, taking more to jail. Sarah Bantz, organizer for Missouri Resistance Against Genetic Engineering (MoRAGE), which was coordinating the demonstration planned at the WAF, was pulled over while driving to give a talk at the Gathering. Her vitamin A was seized as a possible illegal drug and she was taken to jail for not wearing a seatbelt.

As I tried to make sure that speakers (minus Sarah Bantz) were there, that panels could start on time, and that lunches were on their way, I was called by one reporter after another. With the lurid drama rivaled only by stories of a US politician whose weenie went where it wasn't supposed to go, corporate media had turned on a dime. Dangers of genetic engineering were far from their minds as reporters drooled at the prospect of a story on demonstrator violence.

Police Chief Mokwa egged on the frenzy. He held a press conference to display the "weapons" seized during the raids: rocks, roofing nails, torches and Molotov cocktails.

By the next day, it became apparent that the rocks were paperweights; the roofing nails were to repair a leaky roof; and the torches were flaming batons of the Bicycle Circus. When the St. Louis Independent Media Center website posted an eyewitness report of a cop putting toilet paper or a rag in a beer bottle, all press reports of "Molotov cocktails" disappeared as if they had never been mentioned. The "weapons" charges were the first charges dropped against those arrested.

Of course, throughout the events, the only potential violence discussed was that of demonstrators. When reporters asked me about potential violence, I never hesitated to point out that "There is a real threat of lawlessness when the WAF is controlled by Monsanto, a company that lawlessly trespasses on the land of farmers like Percy Schmeiser, criminally steals samples of crops and violently drops pesticide bombs on their fields to test if their crops are Roundup-resistant".

Reporters would tell me that that was not what was meant. They wanted to know if there was a threat of violence during the demonstration set for May 18. I always responded "Yes, there is a real threat of violence. When public safety is put in the hands of a police chief who has condoned the police murder of over a dozen black youth in recent years, the city should be concerned".

Predictably, the press had zero interest in reporting on corporate or state violence. Their prewritten script was to interview one side predicting that demonstrators would be violent and "balance" it with a few seconds of an organizer denying the charge.

Police Attacks

Police attacks on protestors were illegal, traumatic and disruptive to planned events. Kelley Meister wrote in detail of her ordeal. The night before her home was invaded, "police had been circling our house relentlessly, following my friends home, and harassing them on the street, and I had feared waking up to the police knocking down my door". [8] After breakfast the next morning, a police car pulled up.

Two police officers pushed past me to enter the house, and I asked if they had a warrant. When they said, "No," I stated that I did not give them permission to enter my house, and I again asked for a warrant. The officers told me that a warrant was not necessary because this was a condemned building. [8]

After being arrested and put in a police van, Meister "watched many cops enter and exit our house, most notably, an officer carrying a piece of art ripped down off the wall from my room. The cops also stole many other people's personal items such as journals, posters, props for the circus and puppet shows, welding tools, roofing nails, and all of our bicycles that were in the building. The bicycles were eventually returned with slashed tires, but most of the other stuff that was stolen is either "missing" or being held as evidence. [8]

When allowed to return home several days later, she found

The house was trashed. In my bedroom, shelves had been disassembled or knocked over, boxes of oil paints and other art supplies dumped out, my large reading chair was on its side and in the middle of the room, personal items were smashed, and a pile of my clothes that had been dumped from a small cabinet. [8]

Meister and a housemate found "their clothes were drenched in urine," compliments of St. Louis police. [9] When it apologizes for "well-intentioned mistakes," the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners should explain how urinating on clothes is both well-intentioned and a mistake.

What Corporate Media Didn't Report

By the second day of Biodevastation 7, the mania had died down. The Post-Dispatch was even mildly critical of what it called "pre-emptive" arrests. But the press never returned to a discussion of how genetic engineering threatens human health, pollutes the environment, and prepares for agro-business domination of Africa. What remained was a debate of whether the police had "overreacted".

Two photographs from the Fall 2003 Synthesis/Regeneration illustrate the bizarre unreality of the police/media fantasy. The back cover has a photo of the main post office in downtown St. Louis, which was boarded up to protect it from marauding anarchist hordes. On p. 2 is a photo of a security guard with so little to do at Biodevastation 7 that she is playing with the children of those listening to talks.

Though the PATRIOT Act made crackdowns at events like Biodevastation 7 easier, such actions existed long before 9-11. The hysteria generated by police departments is reminiscent of "red scares" of the 1920s and phobic reaction to black organizing that white Americans have felt through the centuries. When Jamala Rogers of the Organization for Black Struggle introduced the Environmental Racism panel at Biodevastation 7, the police raids were at the top of the news. She commented that "You are seeing what black people in St. Louis experience on a daily basis".

One of the vitally important presentations that police raids knocked out of media attention was that by Mwananyanda Lewanika of Zambia's National Institute for Scientific & Industrial Research. The previous year, US trade representatives had bitterly denounced Zambia for rejecting genetically engineered (GE) corn to feed its hungry. Lewanika traced the origin of hunger in Zambia to the Structural Adjustment Program of the 1990s that "stopped government involvement in agricultural production". [10] With government assistance gone, small farmers in southern Zambia could not meet the food needs of their region. Since there was an abundance of food in the northern part of the country, the West could have helped Zambia improve the infrastructure of roads.

But that would have made Zambia more independent of the West rather than dependent on it. So the US offered to donate surplus GE corn. Zambian scientists replied that (a) GE corn might contain food toxins or allergens, (b) effects would be particularly serious in Zambia since corn comprised up to 80% of the diet, and (c) effects would be most severe on the most vulnerable - the young, old and immuno-compromised, which is a large population in southern Africa. Though plenty of non-GE corn was available and could have been donated, the US insisted on offering only the corn that was offensive to Zambians and then denounced them for not accepting it. [10]

Marching Onward

By shifting attention to a manufactured threat of terrorism, the hysteria ensured that discussion of efforts to force GE corn on Africa would not reach public awareness. This puts the six year old belated apology by the St. Louis Police Department (SLPD) in a different light.

The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners claimed that the raids were a "mistake" even though police acted "with well intentions". [9] The 2009 apology spins the myth that the SLPD acted on its own volition.

But the FBI documents paint a very different picture. They suggest that the most likely course of events was:

A. The Monsanto/WAF/Allied Intelligence troika contacted
B. the FBI, which contacted
C. the SLPD, which pumped fantasies to
D. the St. Louis media, which eliminated a nascent dialogue on GMOs and focused exclusively on the illusory anarchist invasion.

Far from being the key culprit, the SLPD was targeted to take the rap. It was a pawn in a far bigger game of using genetic engineering to destroy small farmers across the globe.

Describing police activities during 2003 as "mistakes" continues the campaign of misinformation. Their attacks were no "mistake". They were a vital element in shifting the public eye away from what agribusiness planned for Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Anyone who seriously believes actions by the SLPD were mistakes should let us know how often police departments invade offices such as Monsanto World Headquarters, piss on tuxedos of corporate executives, steal their electronic equipment, tell the press to print front page stories of corporate terrorists, and arrest corporate officers for possession of vitamin A.

If 100% of such police attacks are against those resisting corporate power and 0% of police violence is against corporations, then a reasonable person might conclude that the function of police is to protect corporate power. This is quite a bit different from accounts of the police being a neutral party that occasionally makes the "mistake" of "preemptive" attacks.

We should applaud each of the plaintiffs against the SLPD receiving $13,500. But rather than clearing the air, the police apology serves to further mystify the 2003 web of intrigues. For the corporations that move pawns around, the 2009 apology is merely a tiny step backward in their continuing march to subjugate world agriculture.

Don Fitz is editor of Synthesis/Regeneration: A Magazine of Green Social Thought, which is published for members of The Greens/Green Party USA. If you know of where to find a horde of 50,000 anarchists, please contact him at fitzdon@aol.com

Notes

1. American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. (August 24, 2009). ACLU applauds police apology to protestors. Press Release.
2. Daniel (digger) Romano. (August 31, 2009). Letter to the Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. A11.
3. American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. (Janaury 27, 2006). Letter to Barbara Chicherio and Don Fitz.
4. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (November 15, 2005). Letter to Denise D. Lieberman, American Civil Liberties Union. FOIPA No. 1021258-000.
5. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (April 9, 2003). Counterterrorism memo. Case ID No: 300A-SL-188478.
6. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (May 8, 2003). Counterterrorism memo. Case ID No: 300A-SL-188478.
7. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (April 15, 2003). Counterterrorism memo. Case ID No: 300A-SL-188478.
8. Kelley Meister. (Fall, 2003). Report from the Bolozone. Synthesis/Regeneration, 32, pp. 5.7.
9. Patrick O.Connell. (August 25, 2009). City police apologize for raids in 2003. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, pp. A1, A9.
10. Mwananyanda Lewanika. (Fall, 2003). The real story behind the food crisis in Zambia. Synthesis/Regeneration, 32, pp. 12.14.


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