1/1/2015 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Productive New Year for Police Accountability
  • Don't Let Police Framing of Lone Gunman Undermine the Movement
  • Another Way Cops Get Impunity
Productive New Year for Police Accountability

CUAPB was founded in December 2000 out of organizing for justice for Abuka Sanders, unarmed and shot by Minneapolis police 33 times.  During that effort, organizers recognized that a permanent organization was needed to proactively address police brutality and to provide the community with an effective way to actually bring it to an end.

Over the last year, we have seen an attention to the issue of police brutality and accountability unlike anything we've seen in this country in decades.  About 4000 people took the streets here in Minneapolis alone in response to our call for a demonstration after the grand jury travesty in Ferguson.  We celebrate the continued actions here and around the country that continue to raise awareness of this issue.  At the same time, we have called for the movement to form and advocate for our own demands rather than allow the federal government to co-opt our movement by placing all emphasis on body cams and refusing to address militarization of police or police culture and conduct.

So even as we continue to raise awareness and public pressure, now is the time to move into serious efforts to change the underlying policies and practices that allow police brutality, misconduct and abuse of authority to continue.  To that end, we continue with our work through Committee for Professional Policing to gather signatures to put a measure on the ballot that will require police officers to carry their own professional liability insurance.  This novel approach is spreading like wildfire, with communities around the country contacting us about how they can bring the concept to their own areas.

We are also continuing to press for our platform of 31 changes that could be made RIGHT NOW that would decrease police brutality and improve accountability.  One of those changes would be to scrap the completely ineffective OPCR and return to a community-run model for addressing complaints against police.  And, of course, we will continue to provide copwatch, courtwatch and the highly lauded Know Your Rights classes we are known for.

We need your help.  All of us our volunteers.  Your energy and talents are needed.  We meet every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at 4200 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis.  Stop by and let us know how you can contribute to the movement.  There are all kinds of opportunities.  Too busy for hands-on work?  Groups like ours, that go right up against oppressive systems, are not funded by grants.  We keep the hotline running and support the rest of our work with donations from the community.  We want to thank all of our volunteers and supporters and look forward to working with you in this new year to bring an end to police brutality and make police accountability a reality.

Don't Let Police Framing of Lone Gunman Undermine the Movement

Since the shooting of two New York City police officers on December 20, police have taken to social and mainstream media to blame anyone who works to end police brutality and increase police accountability, as if only unquestioning adulation of the police state--despite widespread evidence of criminality and brutality--is the only acceptable discourse.  We reject that analysis.
 
First, it should be said that the volunteers of CUAPB offer our heartfelt condolences to all victims of violence, whether community members or police officers. Violence against police officers is a crime, just as police brutality is a crime. The respect and dignity afforded to police officers by virtually all media outlets is what that CUAPB seeks for victims and survivors of police brutality. Acts of violence against officers or community members have no place in a well-coordinated effort for justice.
 
What happened on December 20 was that an individual with a history of familial estrangement, a previous suicide attempt, and multiple arrests including one that led to a felony weapon possession conviction, committed a brutal crime against his live-in girlfriend, then proceeded to take out his violent propensities on two New York City police officers. It was a violent crime of derangement and happenstance, not of activism.
 
In their rush to blame the movement, police representatives and anti-activist media outlets conveniently forget about the individual’s shooting of his former girlfriend before he shot the officers. She is in no way culpable in the police killings of community members.  Clearly, this man’s actions were about taking his anger out on others before ending his own life.
 
Police officials also conveniently forget their own role in this incident.  George Clinton sings “if you don’t like the effect, don’t produce the cause.”  CUAPB certainly does not support this kind of individualistic action nor the attendant violence but it does need to be said that the impunity afforded police officers after even egregious incidents has created a climate in which an individual felt compelled to take out his frustrations about police harassment on random officers.
 
Activists are collective and deliberate in our advocacy and our actions. With regard to the killings on December 20, there was no valid objective presented by the shooter in terms of how killing two random NYPD police officers would bring remedy to the communities hurt by police brutality.  Bringing such remedy is the work that CUAPB and its allies have been dedicated to for years. The notion that the violent acts of an individual represent an entire movement or community seeking justice has no basis in reality.  May the voices that represent us never fail to point that out.

Other important statements/articles on this issue:
People's Power Assembly Statement on Police Shooting in Brooklyn
The NTPD's 'Work Stoppage' is Surreal by Matt Taibbi
Stop Kidding Yourself: The Police Were Created to Control Working Class and Poor People by
Sam Mitrani

Another Way Cops Get Impunity
The article below points out the role of arbitrators, who consistently block accountability by forcing the rehiring cops fired through the disciplinary process.  In the situation below, the officer not only engaged in racist treatment of an arrestee but cost her employer $75,000, yet still was returned to the force.  Think of the terrible message this sends to other officers on the force.

Cop Fired for Cutting Out Woman's Weave Gets Rehired
An NYPD cop escaped punishment after getting caught on video chοking Eric Garner to death, so it should come as no surprise that a cop caught on surveillance camera cυtting out a woman’s weave was rehired after being fired.
 
A Michigan police officer who was let go by his department for cυtting off the weave of a detained woman got her job back after an arbitrator agreed that she had not violated the terms of her employment.
 
Bernadette Najor was fired in December of 2013 after she cυt off Charda Gregory’s weave after an arrest. Gregory had been cooperative during the booking process, but surveillance video clearly shows Najor hitting Gregory on the chest and pushing her into a seat. Najor got other officers to assist in restraining Gregory, then Najor cυt out Gregory’s woven-in weave.
 
Najor defended herself by saying she thought she was supposed to remove anything not permanently attached to the suspect.
 
Police Deputy Commissioner Louis Galasso said he watched the video after reading a police report that said a woman’s hair was cυt off.
 
Galassa said he was hoping to send a strong message that this type of behavior would not be tolerated by firing Najor.
 
Warren police released a statement to the Huffington Post expressing their disappointment in the arbitrator’s ruling.
 
“The actions taken by the Warren Police Department were appropriate and required,” the statement reads. “Despite that, this is a nation of laws, and even where we believe that an arbitrator’s decision is plainly wrong, we will follow it. … The City will continue to strive to make this excellent police department even better.”
 
The city of Warren reached a settlement to pay Gregory $75,000 in February of 2014.

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