1/16/2003 Newsletter


  • Federal Mediation: Latest Plot Twist
  • Statement on Metoyer Actions to Thwart Federal Mediation

As you know by now, the road to federal mediation has taken many twists and turns. One of the more interesting plot twists has been that Mr. Zachary Metoyer helped himself to the Federal Mediation Now name in order to collect signatures on a petition trying to get us to add Chief Olson's picks to our negotiating team. He also met with Chief Olson in our name. This, despite the fact that he was never a member of Federal Mediation Now (never even attended a meeting) and never sought our permission to use our name or service mark.

The note below illustrates some of the more interesting aspects of this whole federal mediation struggle. In a nutshell, the struggle has looked like this:

  • After an incredible summer of police brutality along with a vicious attack by police on Natalie Johnson Lee and the dismantling of the CRA, some of us got together to try to get the federal government involved. After a meeting with US Attorney Heffelfinger, we determined that federal mediation was the way to go. That was the beginning of Federal Mediation Now.
  • I called the head of the Chicago regional office of the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice, which handles our area. I spoke to Jesse Taylor, who referred me to Patricia Campbell Glenn. She told me that we needed to put our request in writing.
  • We faxed a written request to Glenn on the morning of August 22, 2002. That night, an uprising broke out in North Minneapolis in response to the shooting of Julian Powell.
  • Early the next morning we called Glenn to tell her what happened and she got on a plane and flew to town. We met with her over dinner and brought her into the Jordan neighborhood to meet people and see the situation first hand.
  • We met with city council members both before and after Glenn's initial visit, to tell them we need federal mediation. During Glenn's visit, she also met with council members to tell them about the process.
  • We launched a public campaign to get the city council/mayor to agree to federal mediation. They were initially quite resistant. The campaign included holding public meetings, doing door to door canvassing, emailing, and attending city council meetings en masse. Much of our work involved teaching the community about the difference between federal mediation and private mediation (which the city was pushing for). Our efforts put the issue on the front page of the paper.
  • Rybak and the council feigned concern for the Somali community in an attempt to block mediation. We busted that by holding a press conference with Somali leaders and presenting a letter from them saying they wanted federal mediation.
  • When it became clear that the city would finally agree to federal mediation, we broadly advertised a community meeting to elect representatives for the negotiating team. On November 16, approximately 83 people attended the meeting. The proposed slate included slots for "historic Black leadership" and a minister. Both slots were changed by vote of the community. An eleven member team and two alternates were voted on by the community.
  • The city council voted on November 22 to approve mediation and instructed Chief Olson to put together a team for the city and begin mediation on December 10th.
  • The community negotiating team (CNT) held a confidential, closed meeting with Glenn to get ready for mediation. Spike Moss, who is not a member of the CNT, walked into the meeting and was asked to leave. He stated that he came just to see who was on the team. It is unclear how he found out about the meeting location and time.
  • On December 9th, Olson cancelled the first mediation session over a supposed concern about community representation. During the battle for mediation, we had made it clear that the city could not pick the community's team. This was the first salvo by Olson in trying to stall the mediation process.
  • After we would not agree to add Olson's nine picks to our team, Zack Metoyer quit the team. He then helped himself to the Federal Mediation Now name/service mark to try to undermine our efforts (see below).
  • Olson has continued behind the scenes efforts to insert his picks into the team and has continued to try to stall mediation. On Tuesday of this week, we filed a court action to force Olson to the table.

The start of federal mediation is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday, January 21st. However, it is still not clear if that will actually happen. If folks want to speed the process along, they could call Mayor Rybak at 612-673-2100 and tell him to tell Olson to stop stalling and start mediation NOW with the elected community team. As for the Zach Metoyers of the world, there is no way to control their actions but we can, at least, expose what they do and chastise city officials for using folks like him to disrupt the community's efforts.

Statement on Metoyer Actions

This item below was written as a response to a piece written by Mr. Zack Metoyer to the Minneapolis Issues email list regarding the use of the name Federal Mediation Now:

People need to be aware that although Mr. Metoyer attempted to abscond with our name and service mark by filing a registration with the state on December 23, the state did not complete the registration. We successfully challenged it by showing a first use of the name and service mark as early as September 2002. In the state of Minnesota, ownership of a name and/or service mark is based on first use, not who happens to show up on the state's doorstep first. We have now registered Federal Mediation Now with the state and have issued a cease and desist order to instruct Mr. Metoyer to discontinue the use of our name/service mark.

Anyone doing a little research would find that many organizations do not have their names registered with the state. For example, the DFL party name/service mark is not registered. Yet, no one would think it was acceptable for an individual to help themselves to the DFL name. Not only is this a legal issue but it is a matter of ethics and political principle. It is especially abhorrent that a person would help themselves to a group's name and well-earned reputation in order to collect signatures on a petition espousing a position that is against the position of the legitimate organization. It would be as if a person took the name Anti-War Committee (a well-established local group) and circulated positions calling for the US to go to war against Iraq.

The REAL Federal Mediation Now coalition spent months with a small army of volunteers combing North and South Minneapolis to educate the public about federal mediation and collect many thousands of legitimate signatures to bring the city to the table. We held many rallies and public meetings. As a result, the REAL Federal Mediation Now coalition (which consists of over a dozen community groups) has a well-earned positive reputation in the community. That Mr. Metoyer used our reputation and past efforts for his own ends is reprehensible. No amount of legal gymnastics can change that. Most ironic of all, perhaps, is that I cannot recall Mr. Metoyer attending even one Federal Mediation Now meeting or event except the meeting during which community representatives were elected.

Federal Mediation Now's position on the community negotiating team is that those individuals who were elected by the community ARE the team. Others had every opportunity to participate and chose not to. A number of those trying to get on the team stated that they were well aware of the process but felt that they should just have an automatic place on the team. The community clearly did not agree. A good many of these folks who are so certain they would be invaluable to our team have never lifted a finger to bring mediation here but stood on the sidelines while we worked like crazy all summer to arm-wrestle the city to the table. It is the height of arrogance to let someone else to do all the work to make something happen and then just expect to walk in and take it over after the hard work has been done. Moreover, we have spent months developing a well-formulated list of demands based on community input and extensive research and our team is ready to sit down with the city NOW to negotiate for these demands. Finally, adding Olson's nine picks to the team (some of whom are quite beholden to the city for financial or other reasons) would cause the team to grow to an unwieldy size, making it difficult for us to work together as a cohesive unit, a must during tense negotiations. If Olson is so convinced that these folks should be at mediation, let him add them to the City team.

Michelle Gross
Elected member of the Community Negotiating Team
Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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