1/25/2006 Newsletters


  • Class Action Suit in Court
  • Public Hearing on MPD Taser Purchase
  • Deputy Attempts to Plant Drugs on Police Brutality Survivor in Open Court
  • Police and Politics Intrude on City Attorney Confirmation
  • Mayday on Awards for Killer Cops
  • Police Chief's Home Torched After Man Dies in Custody
  • Unfathomed Dangers in Patriot Act Reauthorization

FEBRUARY 15 & 16, 9:00 a.m.--PACK THE COURTROOM!
Federal Court Hearing on Our Community Lawsuit
Federal District Court
300 S 4th St, Minneapolis

Due to the unavailability of a key witness on the other side, the judge has granted a change of date for our class action lawsuit from February 1st to February 15 & 16.  This will be a meaty, exciting court hearing and we need to pack the room to the rafters.  Plan now to be there.

To remind you, this is the community class action lawsuit that was filed when it became clear that the city had hijacked the federal mediation process.  The purpose of the lawsuit has been to force policy and practice changes within the Minneapolis police department.  The city has settled on a number of the community's demands but there are still some issues outstanding, including justice for Darryl Robinson, the main named plaintiff in the lawsuit. 

Darryl was beaten by a Minneapolis cop while another watched, when all he had been doing was walking down the street.  His eardrum was ruptured when the officer stomped on his head and the cop who did it then poured seltzer water into his ruptured ear, causing excruciating pain.  The cops left him lying in the alleyway and never charged Darryl with any crime or even filed a police report. 

Darryl took himself to the hospital and demanded to make a complaint against the officer.  MPD sent a sergeant to HCMC to interview him, but somehow the audiotape of that interview got "lost."  Darryl tried to follow up, but no one at the City would do anything.  Someone even told him that if he kept asking questions, he would be harassed.  Darryl contacted us when it was clear the MPD was not going to do anything to investigate criminal charges against one of their own.  He feels that this shows a systemic problem in the MPD, and we agree.  That's when Darryl decided to be part of a legal action designed to force changes.

Darryl is a brave man and a true hero to the community.  Since becoming the named plaintiff, he has been harassed repeatedly and has even had to give up driving due to constant traffic stops.  Yet he has continued to stand strong in his demand for justice and for changes within the Minneapolis police department.  This court hearing will be the opportunity for the community to hear first hand Darryl's story along with issues related to accountability within the MPD.  COME TO COURT AND STAND WITH DARRYL AND OTHERS WRONGED BY POLICE VIOLENCE AND MISCONDUCT.

Public Hearing on MPD Purchase of Additional Tasers
February 15, 1:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers
Minneapolis City Hall
350 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis

On January 4th, the Public Safety and Regulatory Services (PS&RS) committee of the Minneapolis City Council held it's first meeting of the new year.  One item on the agenda was to approve the purchase of 160 new Tasers and accessories, to the tune of over $163,000.  It was supposed to be just a matter of approving a bid for a line item from the police department budget but it soon became a lot more.

CUAPB stepped forward and requested to speak to the meeting.  We presented a memorandum and packet of information regarding the effects of Taser-generated electricity on the body, other safety issues and the increased liability this can bring to the city.  As a result of the concerns we raised, the PS&RS committee agreed to hold a public hearing.

The MPD wants to buy 160 new X26 Tasers.  These Tasers are even more powerful than the M26 model they now use (and believe us, those Tasers are bad enough).  They currently have 150 Tasers in their arsenal.  Chief McManus stated at the January 4th meeting that they would be replacing 100 of these with the new purchase--which means they would end up with 210 of these dangerous weapons.

Current policy requires that only CIT (crisis intervention team) officers carry these devices.  It is not clear that the MPD will retain this policy.  We also have concerns that Tasers will end up in the hands of school resource officers, the cops who patrol Minneapolis public schools.

The public hearing on this matter will be on February 15th at 1:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.  We'll already be downtown at the federal court for our class action lawsuit hearing, so some of us will take a break from court to testify at this hearing.  We encourage you to join us.  If you want a copy of the packet we gave committee members, email [email protected] or call 612-874-7867.

In what must arguably be the boldest move we've ever seen, a Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy working in Chief Judge Lucy Wieland's courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center attempted to plant drugs on an observer and police brutality survivor in open court in front of several witnesses.  Supporters of CUAPB were among the witnesses.

On January 12th, CUAPB was in court with Rasheed Abdullah, one of a pair of brothers who have faced serious harassment by Minneapolis police after their mother, Angela Edwards, filed suit against the MPD for a previous incident.  Rasheed's brother, Rarrity, was in the court gallery observing the proceedings.  He became disgusted with the railroad his brother was receiving and, muttering under his breath, got up to leave.  Witnesses observed the deputy palm a small bag containing what appeared to be plant matter and then sweep his hand as if to pretend that he was picking it up off the floor, though his hand never touched the floor.  The deputy then loudly stated, "you dropped your marijuana" while snatching and arresting Rarrity.  Rarrity was later released with a ticket.

While all of this was happening and people were distracted, the court finished its dirty work of completing the railroad of Rasheed by browbeating him into taking a guilty plea on something he knew he hadn't done.  Worst of all, it appears that his public defender may well have been part of the railroad, since she told him that if he didn't take the deal and accept 8 days in jail, he would be stuck in jail until an April trial date.

Folks always want to know why we have the highest rate of overprosecution and overconviction of Black folks of all the states in the U.S.--maybe this is a small glimpse into why.  It's also a reminder of the incredibly important role of court watch, especially in hot cases.  If they would do this in front of a group of court watchers, what do they do when no one is there?

January 23, 2006

The expected reappointment of longtime city attorney Jay Heffern ran afoul of police-community controversies and City Hall politics Monday afternoon.

Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality testified against Heffern's reappointment during a public hearing, arguing that Heffern has not discouraged city attorneys from prosecuting low-level charges against citizens who file complaints against violent police officers. These prosecutions, Gross alleged, are an effort to "dirty up" people who may be contemplating civil suits against the city as a result of police misconduct.

"It's a method of risk management that is a gross and outrageous violation of people's civil rights," she told the Ways and Means Committee. "This falls squarely at the feet of the city attorney."

Another critic, community activist Ron Edwards, testified that the city attorney's office had been negligent in its supervision of the city's Ethical Standards and Practices department. Edwards alleged that the department had not responded satisfactorily to charges that two Civil Rights Commission members had accepted a total of $245, 000 from the city's Empowerment Zone program and subsequently conspired with the mayor's office to prevent the reappointment of commission member Larry Blackwell, who had called for an investigation of the payments.

"I'm concerned about the prospect of interference," Edwards said. "Is the office functioning?"

Edwards later said he supported Heffern's reappointment, but because he had run into dead ends at City Hall on this matter, he felt he needed to raise the issue during today's public hearing. "I had to do it on Jay's watch," he said.

The testimony is not likely to derail Heffern's reappointment, but it did give committee members enough to think about that they voted unanimously to send it forward to the City Council without recommendation--a surprising vote, considering Heffern's long tenure in the job.

As most folks have heard, MPD killer cop Dan May was forced by public pressure to return an award he was recently given for murdering fleeing teen Tycel Nelson by shooting him in the back 15 years ago.  Why would anyone on this planet give such an award?  Apparently, the awards committee decided to slap the face of the community, as if to send the message that the life of people of color has no value in this city.  Chief McManus at least had the good sense to say he did not approve of the award and he showed real decency by apologizing to the family.  In addition to this outrageous award, the same committee gave awards to the cops who killed Courtney Williams and Benjamin Decoteau.  Sadly, the community has not raised the demand that these awards be returned.

Let's have a look at some of the people on this committee that pins medals on killer cops (list courtesy of G.R. Anderson's article in City Pages www.citypages.com/databank/27/1312/article14056.asp):

Sgt. Bruce Folkens:  6 allegations with CRA.
Ofc. Mike Geere:  1 allegation with CRA.
Sgt. David Gray:  6 allegations with CRA.
Ofc. Bruce Johnson:  5 allegations with CRA.
Ofc. Mike Killebrew:  3 allegations with CRA.
Sgt. Robert Kroll:  17 allegations with CRA; 3 allegations with Internal Affairs--2 sustained.
Lt. Richard Thomas:  3 allegations with CRA; 4 allegations with Internal Affairs--2 sustained.

Clearly, this is a stellar bunch who specialize in community relations--NOT!  Why in the world would these particular people be entrusted with the task of designating heroes among police?  Shouldn't the members of this committee be people who have a better sense of professionalism, accountability and community expectations of police?

Friday, January 20, 2006

MARSHALLVILLE, Georgia (AP) -- Several people broke into the police chief's house and burned it down early Friday, a few hours after a man died in police custody, authorities said.

No one was home at the time, and no injuries were reported. No immediate arrests were made.

Police Chief Stephen Stewart, a Navy reservist who returned from duty in Iraq about two months ago, had left the house along with his family shortly after the death in this town of 1,300 people 90 miles south of Atlanta, authorities said.

Clarence Walker, 48, died at a hospital after officers shot him with pepper spray Thursday night while he was resisting arrest on probation and parole violations, said John Bankhead, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

As news of Walker's death spread, about 100 people gathered downtown near the police station. Sheriff Charles Cannon said the crowd was not unruly.

"In a small town like Marshallville, it's a situation where people want to know what's going on," Cannon said. "They're inquisitive, concerned, especially the family of the deceased. We don't have all the answers."

After about two hours, Cannon said, he asked Walker's family to ask the crowd to disperse, and they did. It was around that time that several people broke into Stewart's home and set it on fire, Bankhead said.

The FBI joined the investigation.

The home, actually a parsonage in a church, was destroyed. Stewart, police chief for about 21/2 years, and his family had been living in the home temporarily after his return from a year in Iraq.

The two officers involved in Walker's arrest were suspended with pay, the sheriff said.

James Jackson, a brother of Clarence Walker, said Walker angered the police because he often ran away from them. He said the police chief had let it be known around town that his officers would arrest Walker "dead or alive."

The chief, who stopped by the charred ruins of his home in the afternoon, would not respond to the allegations or discuss what happened during Walker's arrest.

"I can't speculate. I'm not going to," Stewart said.

by Paul Craig Roberts
January 24, 2006

A provision in the "PATRIOT Act" creates a new federal police force with the power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true, as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.

Go to House Report 109-333 USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and check it out for yourself. Sec. 605 reads:

"There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.'"

This new federal police force is "subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security."

The new police are empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

The new police are assigned a variety of jurisdictions, including "an event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance" (SENS).

"A special event of national significance" is neither defined nor does it require the presence of a "protected person" such as the president in order to trigger it. Thus, the administration, and perhaps the police themselves, can place the SENS designation on any event. Once a SENS designation is placed on an event, the new federal police are empowered to keep out and arrest people at their discretion.

The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers. What is "an offense against the United States"? What are "reasonable grounds"?

You can bet the Alito/Roberts court will rule that it is whatever the executive branch says.

The obvious purpose of the act is to prevent demonstrations at Bush/Cheney events. However, nothing in the language limits the police powers from being used only in this way. Like every law in the U.S., this law also will be expansively interpreted and abused. It has dire implications for freedom of association and First Amendment rights. We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The Brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo.

Many naive Americans will write to me to explain that this new provision in the reauthorization of the "PATRIOT Act" is necessary to protect the president and other high officials from terrorists or from harm at the hands of angry demonstrators: "No one else will have anything to fear." Some will accuse me of being an alarmist, and others will say that it is unpatriotic to doubt the law's good intentions.

Americans will write such nonsense despite the fact that the president and foreign dignitaries are already provided superb protection by the Secret Service. The naive will not comprehend that the president cannot be endangered by demonstrators at SENS at which the president is not present. For many Americans, the light refuses to turn on.

In Nazi Germany, did no one but Jews have anything to fear from the Gestapo?

By Stalin's time, Lenin and Trotsky had eliminated all members of the "oppressor class," but that did not stop Stalin from sending millions of "enemies of the people" to the Gulag.

It is extremely difficult to hold even local police forces accountable. Who is going to hold accountable a federal police protected by Homeland Security and the president?

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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