12/19/2002 Newsletter


  • Federal Mediation Delays
  • Justice for Chris Burns!

City Stalls and Delays on Federal Mediation

CUAPB issued the following press release last night that explains what is really happening with Federal mediation and what is behind all the delays. First, the city tried to block mediation by claiming some newfound concern for African new arrivals and the U.S. Justice Department (though they have since remained strangely silent on the Somali deportation issue). Since leadership of that community courageously stepped forward to say they wanted Federal mediation, the city is now resorting to another tactic. We've personally spoken with representatives of the NAACP and Urban League and we can state both that they support mediation going forward and that they resent the city using their organizations to try to stop mediation from happening. The truth is this: the city (and more likely the Police Federation, to whom most city officials are beholden) is scared to death to sit down with members of their own community to acknowledge the problems and to make changes that will bring the community some measure of control over OUR police department. THESE DISGRACEFUL DELAY TACTICS MUST END!

As survivors of police brutality, family members of people killed by police and others who are interested in and active on this issue, members of Communities United Against Police Brutality are deeply concerned that Minneapolis city officials, with their chorus of attacks on the community negotiating team, are stalling Federal mediation efforts.

"The city has no right to hand-pick the community representatives and that's just what they are trying to do," stated April Knutson, board member of CUAPB.

On November 16, 2002, community representatives were democratically elected at an open community meeting, which had been widely advertised. Despite this, Chief Robert Olson continues to claim that the community is not ready to mediate. He has cynically attempted to pit community groups against each other in order to scuttle mediation. Olson has gone so far as to feign concern about whether the NAACP and Minneapolis Urban League will have a role in mediation. However, both the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP and the Minneapolis Urban League have stated that neither organization has contacted Olson to express concern and that they both support Federal mediation going forward.

Federal mediation is an opportunity for the community to make a binding agreement with city officials and the police. Community representatives present a list of solutions and an experienced mediator with the Community Relations Division of the U.S. Justice Department acts as the "referee" to ensure that the process is fair and helps the community and city officials hammer out an agreement. The Senior Federal Mediator for the Midwest Region, Patricia Campbell Glenn, is the designated mediator for this process.

"The vicious death of Christopher Burns, the wreckless shooting of Julian Powell, and the daily incidents of brutality, harassment and profiling by Minneapolis police point out the need for serious change in police policy and practice. We DEMAND the city stop stonewalling Federal mediation and start working for solutions now, before someone else gets hurt or killed," stated Knutson.


Rally to Demand Justice for Christopher Burns
Thursday, December 19
4:30 p.m.
Peavey Park
Franklin & Chicago Ave in Minneapolis

On November 1, 2002, Minneapolis police violently ended the life of 44-year-old Christopher Burns. Mr. Burns was arguing with his significant other, as couples sometimes do, but there was no physical violence involved. Police rushed into the couple's bedroom, handcuffed Chris, threw him down on the bed, kneeled on his back, put a flashlight under his chin and yanked back violently. He died immediately from a broken neck.

Now police and their buddies in the media are trying to justify this murder by saying it was caused by a legal neck restraint procedure and that Chris died because he had blood pressure problems. DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH THIS LIE!

The way cops get away with killing our brothers and sisters is by having the county prosecutor bring the case before a grand jury. The prosecutor does a rotten job of presenting the case, leaving out most of the facts, and the grand jury then does not indict the cops. Because of this, THERE HAS NOT BEEN A SINGLE INDICTMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER IN THE DEATH OF A COMMUNITY MEMBER IN DECADES!

  • We demand a REAL investigation--a Federal investigation!
  • We demand an independent prosecutor be appointed!
  • We demand ALL the cops involved (including the five who left the scene before the Sheriff and paramedic arrived) be prosecuted!

Christopher Burns was viciously murdered in front of his significant other and four children by Minneapolis police officers. We cannot let them get away with it--NOT THIS TIME, NOT EVER AGAIN! JUSTICE FOR CHRIS BURNS!

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

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