1/15/2004 Newsletter


  • McManus Petition Deadline Extended to Tomorrow
  • Spokesman Recorder: Community Favors McManus for Chief

Momentum on the petition in support of William McManus for police chief of Minneapolis has increased greatly in the last 24 hours. Since the council will be voting on the nomination at tomorrow's city council meeting, we've decided to extend the deadline on both online and paper petitions to 5:00 a.m. on January 16th.

SPREAD THE WORD: Have your friends, families, coworkers, political colleagues, etc. go to http://www.PetitionOnline.com/CUAPB01/petition.html to sign the online petition. Or call 612-703-1612 and we'll fax or email you a paper petition. You can then call that same number for us to pick up the signatures.

A word about addresses: The online petition requires you to give an email address and your street address. Here's why: the petition organization uses your email address to authenticate your signature. Then they delete your email address from their records. We use your street address to look up your ward if you didn't include it (and if you live in Minneapolis). NO ONE WHO SIGNS THE PETITION WILL BE ADDED TO ANY MAILING OR EMAIL LISTS.

JOIN US as we present the petitions to the city council just prior to their vote:
Friday, January 16
9:30 a.m.
City Council Chambers, Room 317
Minneapolis City Hall
350 South 5th Street

Special props to Rickey Jones, who collected several hundred signatures in the last few days. You'll recall that Rickey is a professional photographer who captured police brutality on film and then became the victim himself. He's taking his bad experiences with the cops and turning them into positive action for change. Thanks, Rickey!

By: Pauline Thomas
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 1/14/2004

Many fear ‘more of the same’ if council backs internal candidate

During last week’s whirlwind tour of Minneapolis, Mayor Rybak’s nominee for police chief, William McManus, garnered popular support from many parts of the community. People jammed into the auditorium at Sabathani to meet him, ask questions, and hear how he would take on the serious issues surrounding the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

A public hearing the next day was scheduled for an hour, but lasted over five hours as resident after resident came forward to endorse McManus.

Yet, even with this level of popular support, the confirmation of William McManus is anything but certain. His confirmation requires a majority of the 13 city council members to vote for him but, by most accounts, he has the solid support of only six members. Some council members are wavering on their decision; others are demanding that the next chief be an internal candidate.

Council Vice President Robert Lilligren, Gary Schiff, and Public Safety Chair Dan Niziolek are among the council members who are framing the issue as one of internal candidate versus outside candidate. However, the question before the Minneapolis City Council is not whether an insider or outsider would be a better chief, it’s whether William McManus can do the job. Would Minneapolis be better off with William McManus, or with one of the two internal candidates, Lucy Gerold or Sharon Lubinski?

In considering this question, we should remember the last internal candidate to become Minneapolis police chief. John Laux succeeded Tony Bouza in 1989, and served until 1995. As with current Police Chief Robert Olson, Bouza was brought in from New York to reform the department. The argument was the same. After Bouza’s long tenure as chief, council members favored an internal candidate, and Laux was given the job. He was also arguably the worst police chief Minneapolis ever had.

Laux’s tenure saw the tragic death of Lloyd Smalley and Lillian Weiss, an elderly couple who were burned to death when a concussion grenade was thrown at their door during a botched drug raid. The infamous shooting of Tycell Nelson, who was falsely accused of having a gun, occurred under his reign. Laux also failed at the MPD’s primary mission of fighting crime. It was under Laux that Minneapolis was dubbed "Murderapolis."

The most disturbing aspect of Laux’s "leadership" was that he resisted any attempt to reform the department, largely because he was an insider. Laux bitterly resisted the creation of the Civilian Review Authority and scrapped the department’s own community policing program in favor of harsher and less effective methods.

Robert Olson has had many problems as police chief, but arguably his hardest job has been cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor. Interestingly, Laux recently endorsed inside candidate Sharon Lubinsky for the job.

By opposing the McManus nomination, Lilligren, Schiff, Niziolek, and similarly minded council members are putting the interests of the police federation (which backs an internal candidate and consistently opposes change) ahead of the interests of their constituents at a time when an unprecedented array of community members and leaders have come forward to support McManus and the change he represents. About the chief selection process, Bouza said, "Nothing like getting along and going along to produce comfort levels. Unfortunately, reform means taking on entrenched interests."

In a statement endorsing McManus, Mark Anderson, executive director of the Barbara Schneider Foundation, stated, "His public statement at a local gathering, ‘You may not be able to change people’s attitudes, but you can change their behavior,’ gives us hope that he will be a consistent partner with the mental health community."

Delvin Cree, long-term community and American Indian activist, stated, "I support the appointment of William McManus because I feel he is the most qualified and experienced candidate. Initially, I wanted to support a person of color and/or internal candidate for the position of police chief. Yet, when I considered all of the information regarding each candidate, McManus, in my opinion, came out ahead. He has the credentials and experience of working with diverse communities and a proven track record."

Communities United Against Police Brutality wrote, "We have researched the history and reputation of Mr. William McManus and he seems well qualified to serve as chief." They added, "We have recommended that an outside candidate could best reform the brutal, lawless Minneapolis Police Department culture. William McManus meets this criterion and has a successful history as a reformer."

I polled members of the community and heard these comments: "Minneapolis’ population is changing. The minority population has doubled and is increasing by an influx of outsiders. Yet the police continue to be stuck in patterns that favor, hire and serve insiders. We need someone with the capacity to understand, empathize with and work with this new kind of diverse population. Otherwise, change will be too gradual and too dependent on the imperatives of social unrest and protest, which will inconvenience and hurt us all."

"The culture of the force has benefited those who thrive in it. Why should they change it?"

"The insiders have yet to criticize the current system openly, even though it has not worked well for so many."

"There is a group of people who have been in control and don’t recognize the need for any change."

"There was never any indication by the internal candidates of supporting or implementing any changes within the department to address community police issues."

"He [McManus] is the real deal and someone that the City of Minneapolis should not lose out on due to internal politics."

"A controversy has been raging in this city, whether the next police chief should be an ‘insider’ or an ‘outsider.’ All parties to the argument agree that, due to distrust of police in all communities, and particularly in neighborhoods of color, the next police chief must be experienced in having engaged diverse neighborhoods in a positive way. Secondarily, it must be shown that the new chief can and will discipline ‘bad cops’."

"Both inside candidates have no proven track record of having engaged diverse neighborhoods in any meaningful fashion."

"The insiders have not demonstrated in any way, shape, or form creative ways in how to stop, by example, racial profiling or to combat gangs and gang cultures."

And, finally, "The question isn’t whether or not they are qualified. All of them are qualified. The question is what vision do they bring to the table?"

The bottom line, then, is which way is forward for the Minneapolis Police Department. Do we maintain "business as usual" with internal candidates who are mired in MPD culture and practices, or do we bring in outside leadership with a bold, new vision?

The city council will be voting on the McManus nomination on Friday, January 16. Let your city council member know where you stand on this important issue. For contact information on your city council member, go to http://www. ci.minneapolis.mn.us/ council/ or call 612-673-3000.

Pauline Thomas welcomes comments from readers to [email protected]

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