10/5/2004 Newsletter


  • CUAPB Moves to Walker Church
  • CRA Ordinance Changes
  • O22 Activities
  • Phony "Tulia-style" Drug Raid in Faribault
  • MPD/ICE Separation Ordinance Update
  • Walking with the Devil: The Police Code of Silence
  • Burnsville Police Adopt Translation Device

CUAPB has officially moved into our new office in Walker Community Church.  This beautiful double decker office will give us the room we need to work with many volunteers on our many projects.  We also have access to a large meeting space, smaller meeting spaces and a restaurant-quality kitchen.  If you've been to one of our meetings, you'll know that no one ever leaves our meetings hungry so the kitchen is a real plus.

Our meetings will now be held in the basement of Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South.  We'll continue to meet every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. as always, but at our new location.  Come on by, enjoy a bite, and see our beautiful new digs.

The Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority Board is a volunteer group of community members who work with CRA staff, conduct hearings on CRA complaints, issue rulings on the complaints they've heard and report to the mayor, police chief and city council on trends in complaints they receive.  With a current sustain rate of 44%, probably the highest in the country, the new board and staff put in place after the CRA redesign are doing one hell of a great job!

Some folks, apparently, think they're doing too good a job.  Minneapolis police administration, the police federation, the civil rights department director and others have submitted proposed changes to the ordinance that governs the CRA. 

Some of these ordinance changes would help the CRA do a better job but some of them, if enacted, would GUT THE CRA.  One proposed change would allow the board to set discipline (but the chief could override) which would prevent the chief from doing what he is doing now--refusing to acknowledge and act on the sustained complaints.  Another proposal, put forward jointly by the federation and police administration, would bring the CRA under Internal Affairs and turn it into a monitoring agency, effectively turning it into a rubber stamp for the police department.

Proposed ordinance changes will be taken up at the CRA board meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night.  This meeting is open to the public and there is an opportunity for members of the public to address the board toward the end of the meeting.  We would encourage you to be there:

CRA Board Meeting
Wednesday, October 6
6:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Grain Exchange Building, Room 135
400 S 4th Street, Minneapolis

The community worked hard to put together a CRA that is doing what it should.  We can't let nervous cops and control freaks in the city administration change what the community carefully built.  If we care about having a truly independent body that can take on complaints, investigate and rule on them, we'll make it our business to be at this board meeting to learn about and weigh in on the proposed changes.

Friday, October 22, 2004 will be the 9th annual National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.  We have a series of events in store to mark the day, including speaking engagements at schools, training volunteers to take affidavits in our class action lawsuit, and a powerful event on the day itself:

Friday, October 22
Meet at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza
5th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues
5:00 p.m. Rally
6:00 p.m. "Tour of Injustice" and March through Downtown
We'll move through downtown Minneapolis to condemn police brutality, misconduct and abuse of authority.  Along the way, we'll take a whirlwind tour of sites that contribute to giving Minnesota the highest rate of overprosecution and overconviction of people of color in the entire US.

If you'd like to schedule a Know Your Rights training or other speaking event with us, please drop an email to [email protected] or call our hotline at 612-874-7867.

Last week, the media reported that a major "drug bust" went down in Faribault, MN and local police bragged about breaking up a major drug ring.  However, everything is not quite as it appeared on those news reports.  The warrants for that "drug raid" were based on uncontrolled, undocumented buys from a confidential informant and resulted in many undocumented people who were not in any way engaged in drug activity being swept up.  The bust itself netted very little in the way of actual drugs or guns but appears, instead, to be the Minnesota version of the Tulia, TX fiasco in which a high percentage of Latino residents were rounded up.

We got the following letter from Bruce Nestor, an immigration attorney, who was on the scene shortly after the raids.  A meeting will be called soon to follow up on this matter and we'll let you know when it has been scheduled.

Dear Friends:
Many of you have seen the widespread news coverage of the mass arrests in Faribault, primarily relating to allegations of drug activity. The Star Tribune was the only news item to pick up on the immigration aspects of this matter. All of the local TV coverage was pretty sensationalized and ignored any of the concerns of the Latino community with respect to the presence of immigration agents. Agents from ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) were highly visible and present during the raids. Local police say that ICE was present because they have a SWAT team and they assisted with entry. The local police at least claimed to be somewhat upset that independent immigration arrests were also made, but did not seem to understand the impact on the community of having ICE present during the course of a criminal enforcement operation.
We understand that at least nine people were arrested by ICE agents, without any allegations of criminal activity, and based solely on information acquired during the course of the raids. This is precisely why so many immigrant and Latino advocacy organizations oppose the presence of immigration agents during criminal enforcement actions. The police say that this particular raid was initiated by citizen complaints over one year ago. The action yesterday, however, sends a clear message to law-abiding immigrant families that if they report criminal activity to the police, then immigration agents may show up in their communities and arrest neighbors, family members, etc., who are violating no criminal laws but may have issues with their immigration status. Centro Campesino and other immigrant advocacy groups want to build a safer community and strengthen ties between the police and immigrant communities. We want the immigrant community, which is disproportionately victimized by crime, to feel free to report crimes to the police, to be witnesses if necessary at judicial proceedings, and to report when they are victimized by crime, without fear that they will then be deported. This is particularly true for cases of domestic violence where a victim must feel free to contact police without the concern that she/he, or family members, will be arrested by immigration because they seek protection from the authorities against acts of domestic abuse/child abuse/sexual abuse, etc.
There is a wide body of case law and authority that local police are not authorized to enforce federal civil immigration law -- meaning the enforcement of laws which merely goes to people's status as either being lawful or undocumented immigrants. Police certainly can enforce criminal immigration laws and question people about immigration status when that status is an element of a crime. However, using immigration agents to broadly question bystanders and family members about immigration status during the course of a criminal enforcement action sends a chill through the entire immigrant community and prevents effective law enforcement cooperation with the immigrant community.
On a different note we are also concerned about some aspects of the criminal law enforcement side of this action. We have examined copies of three of the search warrants obtained in the cases. Two of these warrants were obtained based solely on the testimony of an unnamed confidential informant (CI) that he/she had bought drugs from persons at certain addresses within the past 72 hours. These were not controlled buys -- meaning that the CI was given marked buy money, surveilled by law enforcement, outfitted with recording devices, etc. Rather, the CI merely conducted these buys on his own -- and it is not clear that it was under the direction of law enforcement. Its possible that the CI merely bought the drugs on his own, itself a criminal act, and then was either arrested by the police or went to the police and turned over the drugs that be bought (on one of the two occasions the warrant doesn't even say that the CI turned the drugs over to the police, meaning that perhaps the CI used the drugs himself). This is a weak basis for a warrant. More importantly, it raises a concern about whether the testimony of the CI -- probably a person with a criminal record and/or pending criminal charges and a history of drug use -- is making up facts in order to give information to law enforcement which keeps the police happy and makes them treat the CI more leniently. When both these warrants were executed, the police did not seize any evidence of drug dealing such as scales, multiple amounts of packing materials, etc. Rather, in one case, the police only seized some marijuana seeds and stems and a spoon with "residue of white powder." In the second case, police seized multiple items with powder residue, but all consistent with personal drug use and not dealing.
Overall, if these two warrants are characteristic of the enforcement action as a whole, it raises concerns that it is weak and sloppy police work. It also raises concerns that it is similar to the racially based investigation in Tulia, Texas, a long running controversy where a corrupt cop ended up arresting about 80% of the town's African-American population all based on non-controlled buys and weak evidence. Eventually, almost all of those convictions were thrown out of court and the cop was prosecuted himself. This was a major scandal and exposed the potential for race to be the basis for otherwise legitimate enforcement actions. Recent reports in the press, however, state that the police conducted over $74,000 in controlled buys and claim to primarily have arrested persons on sale charges. If these reports are correct, then some of the concerns that arise from an examination of the three warrants we have seen, may not be fully justified. More investigation will have to be done to fully understand the nature and scope of the law enforcement operation and the type of criminal activity which was targeted.
Finally, we are also concerned that with the large number of defendants, people may fall through the cracks of the system, providing defense lawyers will be difficult, and that bail hearings were held without counsel present. For instance, Susana was at one bail hearing where the County Attorney represented that the defendant had reentered the country after previously being deported and that this justified a high bond. In fact, the defendant was of Cuban origin, had never been deported, and could not be deported to Cuba under law. The County Attorney then admitted his mistake to the judge. What other errors have occurred about which we don't know?
In short, we hope to do some followup on this matter, both with respect to the involvement of immigration agents, to the methods used by law enforcement in this operation, and whether it was as really a significant bust as the police make it out to be. Through our work with Centro Campesino, we will look to calling a meeting to discuss both the immigration and law enforcement aspects of this matter, seek to meet with the Faribault and Northfield police about the involvement of ICE agents in future local law enforcement efforts, and take other action.
Susana De Leon and Bruce Nestor
De Leon & Nestor, Attorneys at Law



As regular readers of this newsletter know, Governor Tim Pawlenty has been scheming to undo the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances that prevent our local police forces from detaining people based solely on immigration status.  Pawlenty sent a letter to officials in both cities urging they rescind the ordinances.

Now we know his actions are part of a national plan to block all local governments from passing these types of ordinances.  The Local Impacts of the War on Terrorism Working Group is asking people to contact our US representatives and senators and ask them to OPPOSE H.R. 10 in the House and the look-alike CLEAR Act in the Senate.  Please go to the American Immigration Lawyers Association website at http://capwiz.com/aila2/home/ to sign a statement or compose your own message.  It should be noted that H.R. 10 not only targets immigrants, it is the bill that has been dubbed Patriot Act II in the media and would bring a whole host of repressive measures.

The people of this community have chosen to prevent our cops from acting as extensions of INS/BICE.  We want new arrivals to be able to interact with police and receive police services without putting themselves at risk.  The feds should not be able to force their right-wing, scapegoat-the-immigrants agenda down our throats.  Please go to that website and send your letter today.

CUAPB participated in the Headwaters Walk for Justice and raised funds toward the class action lawsuit against the Minneapolis Police Department and toward our other work.  Although we did not reach our team goal, we doubled what we raised last year and finished in the top 15 organizations.

We still have until October 15th to collect pledges so if you didn't get a chance to pledge, it's not too late.  If you pledged but didn't send in your donation yet, please do so.  You can go to the CUAPB Team Page to pledge online or simply mail your donation to us at CUAPB at our new address: 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407.

Former Minneapolis police officer Michael Quinn has written an expose of the Minneapolis Police Department that is sure to vindicate every critic of the department and reveal the ways the department provides aid and comfort to brutal cops.  The book review below was sent to us and, unfortunately, we cannot attribute it to its original source.  Nonetheless, it gives a good overview.

Walking With the Devil: The Police Code of Silence
by Michael W. Quinn

Walking with the Devil: The Police Code of Silence is an exposition and explanation of the police code of silence and its devastating effects on cops and the communities they serve. The National Institute of Justice reports that in a "nationally representative telephone survey that 52.4% of the officers agreed that "It is not unusual for a police officer to turn a blind eye to improper conduct by other officers." Walking With The Devil tells you "What bad cops don?t want you to know and good cops won?t tell you."

Paperback: 181 pages
*    Publisher: Quinn and Associates (September, 2004)
*    ISBN: 097591250X

Translation Device Assists Minn. Police
Associated Press
Published  October 4, 2004

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (AP) - Burnsville police have begun using an electronic device that translates English into 15 languages in just a few seconds, hoping to save time when questioning the city's Somali, Spanish, Russian and Southeast Asian communities.

Before the department started using a "phraselator" a few weeks ago, officers had waited anywhere from a few minutes to hours to find the right translator.

"It can play a key role in how an investigation concludes," said Sgt. Brad Leach.

Burnsville is among a few departments in the country using the device, said Shannon Dooman, spokeswoman for VoxTech, the Maryland-based company that designed the translator.

The company made the devices for the military and debuted a customized version for police this summer.

"It's the same hardware," Dooman said. "But we've tweaked the phrases to apply to law enforcement."

The hand-held computer translates common law enforcement phrases from English to other languages.

Officers scan and choose phrases that, for example, tell someone they are under arrest and explain Miranda rights. The program also includes investigative questions, such as height or what a suspect was wearing.

The device does not translate answers back into English, so officers encourage people to answer them with gestures, such as pointing to a color or writing down a license plate number.

Officers have to decide when using the $2,300 phraselator is appropriate. Statements for use in court must be made through a certified translator, for example.

"This would never replace a human translator," Leach said. "Right now, it's for those preliminary encounters. We're not using them for full-blown suspect statements that can be used against a person in their arrest."

Officers recently used the device to explain to a Spanish speaker that her car had to be towed because it was in a heavy traffic lane. Another officer used the translator to explain in Spanish that a motorist had to appear in court.

"If we're able to break down the barriers, it's going to help everyone involved," Leach said.

In the October 3rd special Taser edition of our newsletter, we ran an article about a new report called Jolting of Reality.  We indicated that this report was released by Amnesty International.  This was incorrect.  The report was written by a member of the St. Paul chapter of Amnesty International, Nathan Thompson, but it has not been approved by the group as a whole for distribution under its name.  We regret the error and apologize for any confusion it may have caused.

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3104 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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