11/12/2002 Newsletter


  • Time to Get Ready for Federal Mediation
  • Report on Sham CRA Redesign

Saturday, November 16
3:00 p.m.
Green Central Elementary School Cafeteria
3416 4th Avenue South in Minneapolis

As you know, we've been pushing for Federal Mediation as one part of a program of solutions to the systemic problem of police brutality.  The mediator, Patricia Glenn, has been meeting with city officials on a regular basis.  We've been given an indication that the Minneapolis City Council will be voting soon to approve federal mediation.  When this happens, the community must be ready to take our place at the negotiating table.

To get our house in order, the community needs to finalize a list of demands and select representatives.  A meeting has been scheduled for that purpose.

Where Will the Demands Come From?

A preliminary list of demands has been drawn up from a series of community meetings and neighborhood canvassings.  This list will be finished at the meeting.

Who Will Represent the Community?

Various parts of the community will choose who they want at the table, representing their interests.  These representatives, together, will form the negotiating team.  There are only a limited number of slots on the team but anyone who is trusted by the community can be on this team.  It's up to the community to decide who can best negotiate for the changes we want.  To be on the team, a person has to agree to attend all mediation sessions and be able to sign off on the agreement that is reached.  There will be breakout sessions during the meeting for various parts of the community to meet and select their representation.

Saturday, November 16
3:00 p.m.
Green Central Elementary School Cafeteria
3416 4th Avenue South in Minneapolis


Some of us attended what I've come to call a SHAM meeting for a SHAM plan for takeover of the Civilian Review Authority by the so-called Civil Rights Department.  This meeting, which was scheduled by the Civil Rights Department, was ostensibly to "review and take comment" on their plan for incorporating the Civilian Review Authority.  Despite the fact that CUAPB has written the defining critique of that plan, it became clear early on that our concerns and criticisms would not be heard.  Instead, we were to be subjected to a new-age version of a Monty Python comedy.

Although, this was announced as a meeting of the CRA Redesign Action Group, the room was about 75% filled with city hall staffers who had never attended a single CRA redesign meeting or had been any part of the process.  Moreover, the director of the Civil Rights Department, Vanne Owens-Hayes, had arranged to have a facilitator run the meeting who was utterly unfamiliar with the issues but was quite familiar with bogarting meetings and preventing any real discussion from occurring.  She attempted (sometimes successfully) to deflect all questions or concerns off of Owens-Hayes, refusing to even call on some of the people in the room--particularly community members of the CRA action group (there were only three of us there).  She also repeatedly sidetracked the discussion with irrelevant questions.  In one truly Kafkaesque moment, while Ron Edwards was speaking, she wrapped her arms around his body and attempted to put her hand over his mouth to silence him, telling him "if you don't stop talking, I'm going to give you a bear hug."  For those who know Ron, he is not likely to tolerate such a gross violation of his personal space, and he dealt with it soundly and appropriately.

Despite her shenanigans, we were able to get some points out.  In particular, we raised our concerns about the lack of an appeals process and the lack of an evidentiary hearing in the plan.  At one point, the representative of the police federation, Jim Michels, called for us to vote on the issue of evidentiary hearings.  Since our action group recommendations were already drawn up, voted on and presented to the city council this past summer, and since only three out of twelve of us from the community were there (on 4 days notice), I raised my hand to object to this illegitimate grouping taking any kind of a vote.  The facilitator refused to call on me and, instead, went up to people who didn't even have their hands up and asked them what they thought.  Finally, I said out loud that I had my hand up and wished to speak.  She said, "I'm not calling on you."  Well, gentle reader, those who know me know that I refuse to be silenced, especially after spending 3 1/2 months of my life on the CRA action group, writing our well-crafted recommendations.  I stood and began raising my objections to any vote, at which point the facilitator kept screaming "you have to stop."  She finally threw her hands up and screamed, "this meeting is over."  By that time, the other two community representatives has stormed out in disgust at her treatment of me.

At one point during the meeting, I was able to ask Owens-Hayes when she would be issuing her department's revised plan.  She stated that there would be no revised plan.  This is in direct violation of the staff directive issued at the previous joint meeting of the Health and Human Services and Public Safety committees of the city council.  In that directive, Owens-Hayes was instructed to meet with committee members in a work session and draw up a new, more acceptable plan, based on our concerns and the concerns of council members.  The appropriate council members have been informed of Owen-Hayes' statement that she intends to ignore their directive.

At this point, it remains unclear what exactly will happen with the CRA.  It is very clear, though, that powerful forces are doing all they can to make the community swallow an even more anemic version of the CRA than we had before.  We will continue to monitor and report on the situation.

Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

Get our Newsletter or Volunteer Donate Contact Us


get updates