- Local Elections: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
- Spokesman Recorder: Community Members Say Mediation Agreement Not Working
LOCAL ELECTIONS: WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
After watching Bush steal the election--not once, but twice--lots of people have trepidations about the value of electoral politics. Justifiable, yes, but not necessarily valid across the board. Local elections tend to be less subject to the kind of corruption seen in national races. Local elections are an opportunity for people to shape their government in a closer, more fundamental way.
For lots of reasons, CUAPB is not permitted to endorse candidates. However, we are free to tell people about candidates from our perspective. It's up to you to decide what to do with the info. Please note that this is by no means a complete list of candidates nor is it meant to be a comprehensive voter's guide. We're simply sharing what we know about some of the folks who are trying to earn your vote. We urge you to read all you can about the candidates. There are many helpful local news weeklies that will give you the inside scoop.
Minneapolis Mayoral Race
R.T. RYBAK: R.T. attended one of CUAPB's very first meetings five years ago, since he was running for office the first time. It's gone downhill since. Significant efforts were made by the community to bring in Chief William McManus, who claimed to be a reformer and supporter of police accountability. Yet now that McManus is acting in ways inimical to reform (he routinely refuses to discipline cops, actively works to dismantle the CRA, and has all but ignored the Federal Mediation agreement), Rybak steadfastly refuses to reign McManus in. Rybak himself opposed federal mediation and has been detached from the process. He has been virtually silent on the question of diversity hiring of new police officers.
PETER MCLAUGHLIN: We haven't heard a word from candidate McLaughlin about how he would deal with the current police accountability mess in Minneapolis. His only proposed answer to public safety is to hire 150 new cops. However, police brutality IS a public safety issue and a damned serious one in this town. No word from McLaughlin on this.
Minneapolis City Council Candidates
Again, this is not a complete list of candidates since some of the candidates have no history on this issue. However, we will tell you what we know. One note: CUAPB does not support the federal mediation agreement as it is weak and does not address many of the community's concerns. However, city council members who supported mediation early on and who attempt to hold police to the terms of the agreement are standing up for police accountability.
DAVE BICKING: Dave has been a long-time supporter of CUAPB and is knowledgeable and concerned about police brutality and police accountability issues. He puts his values into action--he recently spent the night in the emergency room with one of our survivors of police brutality, helping the man get urgent medical care. A long-time social justice activist, Dave understands that the issue is not just how many cops are on the street--but about diversity, supervision, policies and practices, and accountability of the department to the community. He reports that as he campaigns door to door, he hears frequent complaints of police abuse. Dave recently participated in our October 22 national day of protest against police brutality, speaking out for accountability and against police abuse of authority. To assist his campaign, contact http://www.davebicking.org or 612-532-8288.
NATALIE JOHNSON LEE: Natalie has consistently played a key role in holding police accountable to the community. She regularly fields police brutality complaints through her office and refers people to CUAPB for assistance. She is open and available to her constituents on this issue. Natalie has the distinction of being openly attacked by the police federation after she wrote a letter recognizing the humanity of both Melissa Schmidt and Martha Donald after they were killed in a police incident in Horn Towers. Natalie was a very early and steady supporter of federal mediation--she met with mediator Patricia Campbell Glenn along with representatives of CUAPB and others the first time she came to town and long before federal mediation was a certainty. Seeing Natalie in action at the recent PS&RS meeting, in which she ripped into police leadership for the lack of progress on the federal mediation agreement, was a genuine pleasure. Demanding community accountability, she acted as a responsible public servant should. To assist with her campaign, go to http://www.nataliejohnsonlee.com/
AARON NEUMANN: Aaron has supported CUAPB activities. He has a strong social justice-based campaign, with good positions on police accountability. His campaign deserves a look. Go to http://www.voteneumann.org/ for more information.
DEAN ZIMMERMANN: Dean has been an excellent friend to the police accountability movement in this community for a long time. An early supporter of federal mediation, Dean's office has served as an informal collection site for complaints of police brutality from all over the city and he refers people to CUAPB for assistance. He played a significant role in addressing police brutality against Critical Mass bicycle riders and others. He recently participated in our October 22 protest against police brutality--and this is by no means the first time he's stood up against police brutality in a very public way. To assist this campaign, email [email protected] or call 612-724-3888.
Okay, this doesn't seem like an area where we would have an interest. However, libraries are important to the vitality of a community and for folks interested in public safety, library activities can be a crime control strategy by giving young people things to do after school. CUAPB's first meetings were held at Hosmer Library and we hold community meetings in libraries, too, so libraries are special places for us.
SAMANTHA SMART: Samantha has been a CUAPB supporter from the start. She has a long-term interest in police accountability issues. As a candidate for library board, she has talked consistently about getting the libraries open for longer hours and helping them to really serve the community. You can contact her at [email protected].
Community members say mediation agreement not working
By: Rashard Zanders
Originally posted 10/19/2005
Clearly, the MPD and citizen representatives do not see eye to eye on the Citys progress
After two and a half years of operating under the Federal Mediation Agreement between citizens and police in Minneapolis, a growing disconnect has surfaced between how the City of Minneapolis views the success/failure of the process and how community members on the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) view it.
The community membership half of the Police Community Relations Council went before the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee in Minneapolis City Council chambers October 12 to express dismay with the City's apparent lack of progress in implementing the memorandum of agreement that is the product of the federal mediation process.
Representatives from a variety of Minneapolis communities and constituencies came to participate in what was billed as a "Speak-Out to Improve Police Community Relations" and to encourage the City and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) to implement the Federal Mediation Agreement. But speaking was restricted to only MPD and PCRC members.
Rev. Bethel ably represented the community half of the PCRC before the committee. According to Bethel, PCRC co-chair, the agreed-upon mission of the PCRC is "overseeing and monitoring the implementation of the Federal Mediation Agreement between the Minneapolis Police Department and the Unity Community Mediation Team representing citizens of Minneapolis."
The agreement covers but is not limited to the following:
* use of force,
* police-community relations,
* mental health issues,
* diversifying the workforce,
* cultural awareness and sensitivity,
* racially biased policing,
* accountability of police officers and the complaint and discipline processes,
* removal of children from the home/out of home placement,
* training and recruitment,
* educating the community regarding this agreement, and
* responding to "critical incidents." [MSR, Police relations improving with Minneapolis communities of color, by Isaac Peterson, III, August 17, 2005]
The City specifically agreed to diversify the MPD, foster cultural awareness and sensitivity among the MPD, and to end all racially biased policing, among other important points. Few community members will say the MPD has fulfilled its commitment.
According to former PCRC member Booker Hodges, "The PCRC was established in 2003 as part of the Federal Mediation Agreement between the community and the Minneapolis Police Department. The PCRC is made up of 12 police officers and 18 community members representing various organizations, and it has been in constant turmoil since the beginning of this year." (MSR, October 12, 2005).
This turmoil, or at least reluctance to communicate, was exhibited at the outset on October 12. Neither Mayor Rybak nor MPD Chief McManus were present, though McManus did issue a statement through Deputy Police Chief Donald Harris, sent to "take the bullet" for the chief in his absence. "It's been quite challenging at times, but we're still at the table," Harris quoted McManus.
"I think that's the most important [thing] to remember; we are still working on the issues that will make us better partners," Harris said in concluding McManus' statement. "Our accomplishments at PCRC have resulted in new MPD policies, changes to existing policies. And our work together makes us continually review the way the police department conducts business. That is also a success story..."
"As we move forward going into our third year, my [McManus'] commitment, MPD's commitment, to PCRC both as a body and to its individual members is stronger than ever... Even after the agreement has expired, our work will never stop. There is no finish line."
The rosy outlook for PCRC was hardly shared by anyone appearing before the Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee meeting. The committee is chaired by Council Member Niziolek; participating were committee members Johnson, Samuels, Zerby and Ostrow, and three council members who aren't on the committee: Johnson Lee, Schiff and Lilligren.
It was the lines of inquiry by the three extra council members, particularly Johnson Lee and Schiff, that demystified several unclear and unspecific statements by the deputy chief of police.
In comparison to the sentiments expressed by PCRC Chair Bethel and others, McManuscomments projected a breezy and optimistic view of the PCRC. They contrasted starkly with PCRC member Ron Edward's assertion that the City of Minneapolis and the MPD are risking a future existence in "federal receivership" due to failure to comply with the agreement.
This is in accordance with Section 14 that deals with performance, monitoring and compliance with the agreement, stating: "Because mediation is voluntary, compliance with the agreement must be monitored closely. However, under sections 14.5 and 14.7, it would appear that the only remedy for noncompliance is contacting the Department of Justice for additional mediation." In other words, the agreement/document has no real legal "teeth" to compel compliance.
Among recent missteps by the MPD is the dismissal from the PCRC of MPD community liaison Lt. Mediera Arodondo, who was replaced by Lt. Larry Doyle. A veteran of the Iraq War, Doyle is in the running for an FBI job in Washington, D.C., and there's no assurance that he will not leave if the job calls.
Arrandondo has been a popular and effective community liaison, and his dismissal rubs several community members the wrong way. Doyle said he wants to create a City website with the mediation agreement similar to one in D.C., so citizens can look up the mediation agreement online. Doyle sees his role as gathering up the info to make the mediation process easy to track online.
The recent hiring of 23 new police officers yielded only two officers of color or women, despite the agreement's mandate to diversify the force. Furthermore, the agreement specifically lays out 84 action items to be implemented by the end of the Federal Mediation Process, of which only 20 have been implemented so far, and none this year.
After the hearing before the committee, Whittier resident Barbara Lickness summarized the police department's presentation on [email protected]: "The reporters from the police force gave a report that in brief said they have not implemented many of the issues outlined in the agreement, that as of today, it is no one's official responsibility to implement the agreement, and that it wasn't even clear whether it was the Mayor or the Chief of Police that was in charge of assigning responsibility."
Lickeness added, "I don't think people realize how close we are to having our police force taken over by the Department of Justice. That is who the City is out of compliance with, not just its citizens."
Whether the problem stems from noncompliance and failure to implement the agreement, or with the agreement itself, is also an issue. At the October 12 meeting, a flyer circulated by Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) lists just some of the items "missing" from the Federal Mediation Memorandum of Agreement, including:
* police withholding of services to selected neighborhoods;
* lack of neutral investigations and documentation of witnesses by police;
* intimidation of witnesses to police brutality;
* police officer accounting for time and activities;
* an end to retaliatory charges for First Amendment protected speech or for requesting police officer names and badge numbers;
* the lack of MPD policy on field strip and body cavity searches;
* independent investigations of deadly force incidents and sublethal shootings (rather than by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department); and
* ready availability of duty rosters and 911 tapes.
Citizens in attendance included PCRC Chair Rev. Ian Bethel, Minneapolis NAACP President Duane Reed, mayoral candidates Farheen Hakeem and Marcus Harcus, Whittier resident Barb Lickness, Third Ward council candidate Aaron Neumann, Civilian Review Authority Chair Michael Friedman, and Tenth Ward council candidate Ralph Remington among many more.
Hakeem was "disappointed that the public wasn't able to speak, to really emphasize the urgency of implementing the Federal Mediation Agreement...not to say that the PCRC members that were there hadn't done an excellent job speaking to that."
PCRC meetings are open to the public; anyone interested in attending may contact New Beginnings Baptist Tabernacle at 612-823-8680 for information. To see the entire list of CUAPB demands, email www.cuapb.org or call 612-874-7867.
Rashard Zanders welcomes reader responses to [email protected].
Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)