12/24/2003 Newsletter


  • Hennepin County Prosecutor Drops All Charges Against Bryce Williams
  • Philander Jenkins Case Update
  • Declassified FBI Documents Suggest Shoddy Management of "No Fly" List, Fail to Show How Innocent Americans Can Get Names Cleared
  • A Minnesota Fable

In a stunning victory for the people, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office informed Bryce Williams through his attorney that they are dropping all charges.

You'll recall that Bryce was viciously grabbed out of the crowd and arrested by Hennepin County sheriff's deputies and Minneapolis police during our October 25th Justice for Philander Jenkins rally outside of the jail. He was charged with "making terroristic threats." Deputies were seen high-fiving each other that they had nabbed a member of Philander's legal team, who had been in to see Philander just the day before. Luckily, their glee was short-lived.

It was clear from jump that the charges had no merit and that in a fair courtroom Bryce would have prevailed. However, in such a politically charged case, it's better not to have to go to court at all. This is truly the best of all worlds for Bryce and the movement.

"I feel great!" stated Bryce. He added, "Now I can get back to working on other people's cases." The truth is, he never stopped working for justice for others. Bryce spent his time in jail teaching people about their rights and lining them up with lawyers and the CUAPB hotline. Since then, he has worked tirelessly for justice for Philander and many others. It's so great that he can continue his important work without the cloud of trumped up charges hanging over him.

Special thanks to attorneys Jill Clark and Jill Waite, who gave very generously of their time, from the moment they dashed to the scene in response to a frantic phone call as Bryce was being dragged into the jail, through interviewing several witnesses, to preparing for trial. They are the people's lawyers in every sense.

This truly is a people's victory--your calls and letters made it happen. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts. Once again, you've made all the difference!

We were back in court this past Monday with Philander Jenkins. Last week, Sheriff's Deputies attacked Philander's attorney and supporters in the courtroom while the Washington County Attorney's Office issued an outrageous "report" justifying his decision not to prosecute the deputies who attacked and sexually assaulted Philander.

This Monday, though, the tone in the courtroom was very different. Philander's case has been taken over by a new attorney, Jill Clark. The courtroom was packed with court watchers from CUAPB, ARA and CCPP and the prosecutor and judge figured out quickly that they had better be on their best behavior. They just couldn't have been more civil toward Philander and his attorney.

Although the prosecutor put up a mild objection, Judge Regina M. Chu* granted a one-week continuance so that Philander's new attorney would have a chance to get up to speed on his case. One week is definitely not long enough but it is better than what the prosecutor wanted--to start the trial that day. Ms. Clark also reserved the right to ask for a change of venue or to submit other motions.

Philander will be back in court on Monday, December 29th at 9:00 in the Hennepin County Government Center (check with the court information desk for courtroom number). IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE KEEP THE HEAT ON BY PACKING THE COURTROOM WITH SUPPORTERS--PLEASE COME.

Philander and his mother Brenda would like to thank everyone who has worked for justice in his case. Brenda is a textbook example of someone who is being helped by the movement but who is also out there helping others. She is working hard with CUAPB as a court watcher, she's written media statements and she's doing other work to get justice. This is the way we build up an army of folks taking on this issue. If everyone who has been affected by police brutality followed Brenda's example, we would soon overwhelm the system and beat back these attacks.

*PLEASE NOTE: In the December 19th edition of the newsletter, we stated that Judge Mary Dufresne was the presiding judge during Philander's last court date. This was an error caused by misreading our notes. We apologize for any problems this may have caused and will double check our accuracy in the future.

Declassified FBI Documents Suggest Shoddy Management of "No Fly" List, Fail to Show How Innocent Americans Can Get Names Cleared
American Civil Liberties Union
December 4, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO - The FBI's first-ever release of classified documents about the controversial "no fly" terrorist watchlist both reveals some disturbing new information and fails to answer crucial questions about the watchlist's implications for civil liberties, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said today. Of greatest concern is that the documents are silent on how Americans falsely listed as potential terrorists can clear their names.

"As with all these government watchlists, the concern is that they will be distributed and built without any constraints to ensure that innocent Americans are not wrongly flagged," said Jayashri Srikantiah, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU of Northern California. "This disclosure does nothing whatsoever to allay that fear - and in places gives reason to be more worried about the no-fly list."

The 94 pages of documents, released in accordance with a Freedom of Information Act request from the ACLU and two Bay Area activists, lack an answer to another crucial question in the debate: whether Americans are being singled out on the list based solely on their First Amendment-protected activity. The many holes in the declassified documents add up to big questions about how well the list is being managed, by whom, and whether it contains clear constraints and mission limitations to ensure that it does not violate Americans' basic freedoms, the ACLU said.

The disclosures are also silent on how Americans can get their names off the list and whether the FBI tracks "no fly" list matches.

The documents do confirm, however, that not only are the lists being culled together by the "FBI, CIA, and probably other [intelligence] agencies," but that the list is being disseminated widely in America and overseas to both embassies and the military.

"Particularly given the troubling revelation that the 'no fly' list may be distributed internationally and domestically and even to the U.S. military, the public has a right to know whether the list makes us any safer," Srikantiah said. "It is likely that thousands of innocent passengers are being stopped and questioned at airports across the country because of the list. Will these people face consequences in this country and even abroad because of the 'no fly' list?"

The ACLU of Northern California's analysis, entitled "FBI Documents Fail to Reveal How the 'No Fly' List Makes Americans Safer," concludes: "When potentially thousands of innocent travelers are being subjected to unwarranted searches and detentions because of the list, the public should be able to understand and deliberate on whether the lists improve security or are just a waste of government resources."

The ACLU of Northern California filed the FOIA and Privacy Act requests on behalf of itself and Bay Area peace activists Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon last year. Earlier that year, both women were told by airline agents at San Francisco International Airport that their names appeared on a secret "no fly" list and were briefly detained by San Francisco Police while their names were checked against a "master" list.

The ACLU's analysis is online at http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=14519&c=272

Selected FBI documents released under the FOIA request are online at http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=14517&c=272

This was sent in by a reader and you've got to admire the woman's guts for applying the same standard to cops as they apply to her. If you come across things you think would be good in this newsletter, feel free to email them to [email protected]

A couple goes on vacation to a fishing resort in northern Minnesota.  The husband likes to fish at the crack of dawn. The wife likes to read.

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and continues to read her book.

Along comes a game warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking "isn't that obvious?")

"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her.

"I'm sorry officer, but I'm not fishing, I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.............

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.[We'd argue that the moral is that the same standards should apply to the cops as to the community.--Editor]

Whatever holiday traditions you and yours follow, may you find happiness and comfort surrounded by the warmth of love. It's been a marvelous year of people's victories. Let's carry that fighting spirit forward in 2004.

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

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