12/19/2003 Newsletter


  • CUAPB Denounces Continued Whitewash in Philander Jenkins Case
  • Outrage in the Courtroom: Deputies Attack Philander's Lawyer, Mom and Supporters While Judge and Prosecutor Work to Deny Philander's Rights
  • Homeland Insecurity Hits Home: Arrest of MCTC Student Mohammed A. Warsame
  • On the Rural Front: Sacred Heart, MN Police Officer Accused of Police Brutality
  • Ashcroft Goes After Santa Claus

The following is a press statement we released to the media yesterday:

The Washington County Attorney’s Office announced today that it will not prosecute the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department for the beating and sexual assault of Philander Jenkins. While the statement released by Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson alleges that evidence of sexual assault is inconclusive, we believe his decision is tainted by politics and continues the whitewash surrounding this case.

From the start, it is clear that the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has taken action to prevent Philander from receiving justice in his case. It is sad to see that Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson has joined the coverup.

Philander was put into isolation immediately after the incident and was prevented from communicating with his family. He was not permitted access to a telephone and was not allowed paper, complaint forms or writing implements. Members of his legal team were harassed and repeatedly denied visitation. One member of his legal team was arrested as he stood outside of the Hennepin County jail.

Despite repeated requests, Philander was denied access to jail staff nurses after the incident. After a barrage of phone calls to the jail from the community, Philander was finally taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for medical care several hours after the assault. Initial records released from Hennepin County Medical Center indicate a disposition of “sexual assault victim.” Despite repeated efforts by Philander and his family to receive his full medical records from that visit, Hennepin County Medical Center has withheld those records for over two months.

Philander’s family and the community demanded that he receive an independent medical examination from a caregiver not on the Hennepin County payroll. A court order was sought from Judge Katherian Rowe. Even before Philander’s lawyer appeared in court, Sheriff’s Department staff had ex parte communications with Judge Rowe to influence the terms of the court order. Sheriffs took Philander to his examination but took him away from the facility before the time of his appointment. His doctor arrived to find Philander gone. Judge Rowe refused to issue another court order for the exam, despite these actions by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

Considering this history, we are very wary about a number of gaps in the Washington County Attorney’s Office statement:
* Contemporaneous statements from two inmates who saw Deputies enter Philander’s cell and described hearing the beating and sexual assault, including hearing Philander tell the Sheriff’s Deputies to "stop pulling down my pants" and "get your hands away from there." These statements were recorded on Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office "First Person Statement" Forms.

* Information on blood or other analysis of kleenex tissues Philander used to stop anal bleeding after the attack. Philander had secreted the tissues into his jail jumpsuit and taken them to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Once there, he gave them to nurses, who put them into a plastic bag and sealed it. A chain of custody and test results for these tissues need to be produced.

* Information on security videotapes of the area of Philander’s jail cell. These were noted in the witness statements. Were they preserved? Who has them?

* Philander’s attorney saw him in the immediate aftermath of the assault. We have seen photographs of Philander’s injuries, including scrapes, bruises and gashes on his face. His attorney saw blood on his jail jumpsuit. None of this is discussed in the statement.

* The statement indicates that a rectal swab showed "no semen." Philander never stated that the sexual assault involved penile penetration. He stated that he was assaulted with a type of solid object like a stick.

* There was no indication on the report of any examination for anal tears or other trauma typical of anal sexual assault.

We believe that if a Black man had been accused of the kind of sexual assault Philander Jenkins experienced, Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson would be only too happy to prosecute. However, since this assault happened at the hands of Hennepin County Sheriffs, Doug Johnson refuses to prosecute and, worse, actually shows bias against Philander Jenkins in his statement.

We have concerns, too, about the BCA investigation of this case. As soon as the BCA announced that its investigation was complete, Philander’s attorney requested copies of the findings. Officers with the BCA told Philander’s attorney that no report was ever done on the case. This statement is laughable at best and certainly could not be truthful.

Because of the controversial nature of this case and because of BCA ties to local law enforcement agencies including the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, this case should have been referred to a special prosecutor from the start.

After all of the efforts to cover up this assault and prevent Philander Jenkins from receiving justice, we make the following demands:

1) Time to appoint a Special Prosecutor NOW!
2) All information from the BCA investigation must be released to the public, not just the selected tidbits chosen by Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson that fit his conclusion.
3) Most importantly, for his personal safety, PHILANDER JENKINS MUST BE MOVED TO ANOTHER JAIL.

The lack of credible investigation and efforts to stonewall justice create a climate of serious doubt surrounding this case. Washington County Attorney Doug Johnson has chosen political expediency rather than truth, putting Philander Jenkins and other inmates at the Hennepin County Jail at risk. We will not rest until Philander Jenkins gets real justice!

**Now that the Sheriff's Department has been given the green light to sexually assault inmates with impunity, and given what happened in court on Wednesday (see below) we are working with Philander's legal team to get him moved quickly to another jail. Very soon, we'll let you know what you can do to help.

Philander Jenkins was in court earlier this week on charges made during his May 2003 arrest in which police broke his jaw. You'll recall that he was held in jail for 10 days with no medical care and that he required surgery to repair his jaw. Philander was re-arrested a month later and was beaten and sexually assaulted by Sheriff's Deputies in Hennepin County Jail. Philander's case continues to be a study in how police brutalize someone and lay on charges to cover it up, and how prosecutors and judges go along with the program.

On Wednesday, the trial turned truly bizarre. The prosecutor tried repeatedly to get Philander to take a plea. He declined, stating he wants a chance to prove his innocence in a jury trial. In what looked like a scene from a Stanley Kubrick film, Sheriff's Deputies upped the ante by trying to strong-arm Philander's attorney while he met with Philander during a break in the hearing.

When the hearing resumed, a flank of six deputies entered the courtroom and used various excuses to come after Philander's mother and supporters, in an outrageous attempt at intimidation. These were the very same deputies who attacked our demonstration a month ago outside of the jail and arrested Bryce Williams, so they know CUAPB members and were able to single us out. One of the deputies who had arrested Bryce tried to throw him out of court Wednesday for simply putting his lunch leftovers away in a backpack. If anyone so much as cleared their throat, deputies were all over them.

While this was going on, the prosecutor stood and tried to add to the court record a statement that Philander's attorney had "caused a security breach" by meeting with his client during the court break. She tried to force Philander's lawyer to apologize, despite what deputies had done TO HIM. Clearly, this was meant to further intimidate Philander's defense and back us down.

At one point during the hearing, Philander indicated that he wants seek other legal assistance. Judge Mary Dufresne told him he could not and that she would not allow him to get a public defender, either. The judge told Philander he could either represent himself, stick with his current attorney or give her the name "right now" of another attorney he would like to represent him. Philander asked for a continuance to find another attorney and the judge called that a "stall tactic"--after the court has delayed his trial for months! She kept talking about how the jury was waiting in the hallway to get the trial started--as if the jury's schedule is somehow more important than Philander's right to legal representation of his choosing. The judge gave Philander until 1:00 that day to give the court the name of another lawyer who would represent him. Mind you, Philander is in jail and doesn't exactly have unfettered access to a telephone to even be able to call lawyers.

Philander's family and lawyer quickly took his request for a continuance to a State Court judge, who immediately approved it. Philander's case is delayed until Monday, December 22nd, while the family seeks other legal assistance. However, even when he gets a new lawyer, that lawyer will not have adequate time to prepare for trial on such short notice. The judge knows this, and this looks a whole lot like a railroad job to us.

This whole episode points out the valuable role played by CUAPB court watchers. Having several court watchers present allowed us to document the actions of the deputies as well as the hijinks of the judge and prosecutor. We would strongly encourage anyone available to join us in court on Monday, December 22nd at 9:00 a.m. at the Hennepin County Government Center for the next phase in Philander's trial. We can pretty much assure you it will at least be interesting.

Homeland Insecurity Hits Home
One Nation News
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
[email protected]

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A close relative of a Minneapolis college student arrested last week as a material witness in the federal government's investigation of al-Qaida, said he is a polite and friendly member of the Somali community in the Twin Cities.

Abdullah Warsame, 43, who runs a translation and immigration business in the Somali Community Center in south Minneapolis, said he and other Somali immigrants were shocked at the arrest of 30-year-old Mohammed A. Warsame, a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The younger Warsame is expected to appear in court Tuesday in Minneapolis as officials try to transfer him to New York.

He is a dedicated father and observant Muslim who studies hard in his chosen field of computer science, Abdullah Warsame said. He is neither political nor overly religious, he said.

"They are detaining a valuable man who is missing his final exams,"Abdullah Warsame said. The elder Warsame said that he is a cousin of Mohammed's father, but that Mohammed calls him uncle. He described Mohammed as "sociable, not shy, straightforward, like a typical American."

Minneapolis parking lot attendant Jama Mohammed, an acquaintance of Mohammed Warsame, said he is a "very sweet" person who encouraged him to go to school. Jama Mohammed said that Warsame's mother-in-law died in June of liver disease and that he remembers Warsame going to the hospital night after night. "He's a man of that character,"Jama Mohammed said. "I'm sick over his case right now."

Dahir Mireh Jibreel, a social studies teacher at Edison High School and a close friend of Abdullah Warsame, said Mohammed Warsame is just a regular guy who is too busy with his education and family "to be running in a dark world." "He is 100 percent mainstream,"Jibreel said. "I've had coffee with him at Starbucks. He's not a religious fanatic. He's not on the fringe. He's right in the middle." That's why members of the Somali community want answers from authorities about his detention, Jibreel said.

Officials have said they can't comment on the case because of federal regulations. The detainment proceedings were held in secret.

Sacred Heart police officer accused of police brutality

The sole police officer of Sacred Heart, Minnesota is named in a federal lawsuit. Richard Wertish, of nearby Renville, says he was thrown to the ground by the officer during a traffic stop. He says it all happened as he was trying to overcome a diabetic attack.

This is a case of he said he said, in an incident that allegedly took place outside of Renville, on highway 212 back in April. Wertish says he was leaving sacred heart and heading home to Renville when he had a reaction to his insulin medication.

He says he was pulled over by the Sacred Heart police chief, yanked out of his vehicle and thrown to the ground. He also says his head was slammed to the ground and that the officer would not listen to him when he tried to tell him about his medical condition.

The police report tells a different story. It says Wertish was driving all over the road and that police pursued him for more than six miles before he stopped. It goes on to say officers approached the vehicle with weapons drawn and that when he was told to get out of the vehicle Wertish stated, "what do you want?"

The incident reports says Wertish was noncompliant and says he would not take his hands out from underneath his body. It also says that Wertish did have some abrasions on his face.

Our attempts to contact the Sacred Heart police department were unsuccessful. The federal courts will likely decide this case.

This important announcement was sent to us by one of our readers:

Free Santa Claus!
Stop the Political Railroad!

The Santa Defense Society (S.D.S) has learned the Ashcroft Justice Department has subpoenaed Santa Claus. The Justice Department is claiming that Santa's refusal to turn over his list of naughty and nice children is a violation of the Homeland Security Act. Santa had said he would go to jail before he cooperates with the government.

"This is my list!" said Santa, "I'll be damned if this government or any government can have it!"

Santa has vowed that he will resist this attack "by any means necessary!" He went on to say, "Let those naughty children in Washington try and lock me up. They'll get more than coal in their stockings!"

We can't let this attack go unopposed! Join Us! Beat back the fascist attack on Santa Claus!

Santa Defense Society (S.D.S.)

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