2/22/2004 Newsletter


  • Edwin Perkins Rally and Court Watch
  • Police Brutality is a Crime--Reporting It Shouldn't Be
  • Rickey Jones Court Watch
  • Community Organizing Meeting to Block Passage of "False" Reporting Bills
  • Haynes Family Court Watch
  • William Alsaker Court Watch
  • Wayne Heskett Court Watch
  • Carol Knox Court Watch
  • Airline Security Program Has 'Slave' Overtones
  • "Freeze, FBI!"

We've just learned that the court date for Edwin Perkins, the retired firefighter who was beaten and charged as a result of racial profiling by Chaska police, has been moved to March 24th at 1:30 p.m. Therefore, dates for the rally against racial profiling and court support for Mr. Perkins are being changed. The time for court support has also changed. New dates:

Rally Against Racial Profiling
Tuesday, March 23
5:00 p.m.
Carver County Courthouse
604 East 4th Street, Chaska
Meet at the CUAPB office at 2104 Stevens Avenue in Minneapolis at 3:45 p.m. to carpool to Chaska.

Court Support for Edwin Perkins
Wednesday, March 24
1:30 p.m.
Carver County Courthouse
604 East 4th Street, Chaska
Meet at the CUAPB office at 2104 Stevens Avenue in Minneapolis at 12:15 p.m. to carpool to Chaska.

Sorry about this, but it's the nature of court proceedings to change sometimes. Please help us spread the word about these changes. And please do your best to be there. These rallies have a big impact in small towns--there's already a buzz in Chaska about this and we're already getting calls from the media.

In the previous edition of this newsletter, we told you about a set of dangerous bills that have been introduced into the Minnesota legislature that would criminalize "false" reporting of police misconduct. It would even make it a crime to report police misconduct to anyone who "communicate[s]" it to a public official, such as when folks call the CUAPB hotline and we call the jails, city council, judges, etc. to demand justice. THIS BILL IS DANGEROUS AND WRONG!

The house bill, HF1661, is making significant progress as it has already had two readings (a bill has to have three readings before it can be voted on) and has passed out of the House Judiciary committee with a positive recommendation.

NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and let them know what a bad bill this is. If you're not sure who your representative is, go to http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder.asp to look up their name and contact information.

Some talking points about why this bill is bad (courtesy of one of our friendly lawyers):
[Keep in mind that this bill would amend the existing MN Statute §609.505 which already criminalized providing "false information" to police.]
1.The proposed amendment violates the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. Americans have a right under the First Amendment to criticize government, including making complaints about police conduct. Americans have a right to express their opinions openly, including to someone who might "communicate it to a public official." Characterizing police behavior as "misconduct" is our right as Minnesotans. The courts could immediately strike the statute as unconstitutional.

2.Existing 609.505 encourages racial disparity. The existing 609.505 is already misused by police to discriminate against people of color. African Americans are 35 times more likely to be arrested for providing false information to police under Minn. Stat. §609.505. T.L. Johnson and C.W. Heilman, Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: An Embarassment to All Minnesotans, Bench & Bar of Minnesota (May/June 2001). Yet studies show that African Americans commit crimes at no greater rate than whites.
The United States Supreme Court has since 1999 required that the language of criminal laws passed by state legislatures articulate criteria to prevent police from disproportionately enforcing the law. This bill does not do that.

3.We can’t have 2 sets of laws. In many criminal trials, defense attorneys prove that the police falsified police reports in order to get someone convicted. Where is the redress for those false reports? To criminalize lying about police, and not by police, creates a double standard that undermines respect for the law.

4.Who gets to decide what is false? One of the problems now, is that police physically control all evidence they seize (such as videotapes showing their misconduct), even if they seize it illegally. And the municipality controls almost all other evidence of police misconduct (911 calls, radio calls, computer messages, etc.). All of these factors already make it difficult to prove a truthful and legitimate case of police misconduct. But we all know that police misconduct does occur. If reported misconduct can’t be documented, does that make it a "false" complaint?

People are already afraid to complain against police. Imagine if those who complain in good faith could be arrested in their own homes by the very police officer that they complained about? If this bill becomes law, no one will dare complain. Or is that what the bill’s authors want?

NOW IS ALSO THE TIME TO COME TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY with a plan to defeat these bills:
Community Organizing Meeting to Block Passage of "False" Reporting Bills
Thursday, February 26
6:00 p.m.
CUAPB Office
2104 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis

Please be there and bring representatives of any and every organization that is interested in this issue. We hope to come out of this meeting with a coalition and an action plan in place to put the kybosh on these ridiculous and dangerous bills.

We have quite a number of court hearings coming up--sometimes more than one on the same day. If you can spare even a little time to make it to one of the hearings, please come. To find a case, go to the court information desk and give them the name of the person involved--they will give you the courtroom number. Court watch can make all the difference in getting folks getting fair treatment by the courts--please help if you can.

9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Rickey Jones: Trial on traffic stop. One case on the long list of harassments against this professional photographer, after he captured police brutality on film. Rickey was exiting a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis. Police had the street blocked off near the parking lot so that traffic could only go in one direction. Rickey followed the other cars out of the lot but was singled out and stopped, supposedly for going the wrong way, though it was the way cops were directing cars. What his harassers didn't know is that this incident, too, was captured on film.

6:00 p.m.
CUAPB Office
2104 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis
Community Organizing Meeting to Block Passage of "False" Reporting Bills: See story above for details.

9:30 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Rickey Jones: Pretrial on multiple cases of harassment by the same police officers.

9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Haynes Family: Oscar Haynes, his wife and son were driving home from a family outing. When they got to the corner of Washington and 4th Avenue North, they were pulled over by Minneapolis police for allegedly playing their radio too loud. Problem is, their radio didn't work. (Maybe the real reason is that the family is multiracial.) Oscar presented his drivers license and insurance card but was pulled out of the car, beaten and had his head bashed into the bumper of his car. His wrist was broken during the beating. These are people who had never had an encounter with law enforcement before. His wife came out to the car and begged police to stop beating Oscar. Police then turned on her and beat and tasered her. Their 12-year-old son was crying in the car and saying "stop hurting my mom and dad." Police dragged him from the car and beat and tasered him, too. When we met him, he had several large, painful taser burns all over his back. He was taken to juvenile detention while his parents were taken to jail. The son was found not guilty in his juvenile court trial. Now it's Mom and Dad's turn in court.

1:15 p.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
William Alsaker: William is bipolar and was having an episode when approached by police. He fled briefly but laid down on the street and was handcuffed. Police then kicked and beat him so badly that the jail refused to accept him. He was taken to HCMC, where he had facial reconstructive surgery as a result of his injuries. He is charged with fleeing and obstructing legal process.

1:30 p.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Wayne Heskett: Wayne is a business owner who has experienced ongoing harassment by police including destruction of some of his business property after he reported that the neighboring business, a cab company, was blocking access to his parking lot on a regular basis. Turns out one of the owners of the cab company is a cop. Wayne faces concocted charges.

9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Carol Knox: Carol has a seizure disorder. She had a seizure on 12/12/03 and awoke handcuffed in an ambulance. Although a neighbor explained to police that she was having a seizure, Carol was apparently arrested during the event. Her kids, ages 11 and 7, were left at home alone. Carol was taken to HCMC, treated for the seizure and a broken finger, and was released. A few days later, she got a ticket in the mail saying that she is being charged with 3rd degree assault on a police officer.

by Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - The proposed computerized federal airline security system that would require passengers to present identification, undergo a background check and be color-coded, based on their perceived risk, harkens back to slave laws that prevented Blacks from traveling, says a Harvard University researcher who specializes in privacy issues.

"What this is really reminiscent of is what happened on plantations during slavery when Black people or persons of color had to have passes in order to travel," says Richard Sobel, a privacy policy researcher at the Harvard Medical School. "Essentially, the 13th Amendment ended involuntary servitude, but when you have to ask the government's permission to do certain things such as to travel or to work, you are no longer your own person."

Despite strong opposition from civil libertarians and civil rights activists, the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration is pushing ahead with the so-called CAPPS 2 program with hopes it will be in full operation within a month. It is a heightened version of the Computer Assisted Passenger PreScreening program (CAPPS 1), instituted to heighten security following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The TSA argues that current security measures, which centers on the scrutiny of packages and people in search of potential weapons - is not enough. CAPPS II would collect the names, home addresses and phone numbers, dates of birth and travel itineraries of travelers. The information would then be fed into huge databases, such as Lexis-Nexis and Acxiom, that are connected to public records. It would draw on credit bureau reports, Social Security numbers and other personal data before assigning a threat level to potential passengers.

A red rating would prohibit the traveler from boarding a flight. A yellow rating would mean a passenger will be scrutinized and questioned further before allowed to board a plane. A green rating allows a person a standard flight experience.

While there have been increased advocacy - even from liberals - to sacrifice some conveniences since Sept. 11, CAPPS 2 is the level of scrutiny that simply goes too far, according to some activists.

"Requests for I.D.s happen to Blacks and minorities much more often than Whites," Sobel says. "Travel is a civil right. The Black migration that occurred in this country brought a wave of migration from the South. Imagine what it would be like now if people had to get government's permission to go to Chicago."

As early as 1690, laws were established to criminalize transported Africans who moved about or even visited friends on other plantations without passes. Slave patrols, mostly White males with guns, were set up to enforce the laws.

"The real danger to civil liberties is that the government assumes that it has the right to tell people whether they can travel or not. And that's not a stretch. That's exactly what the system is about," Sobel says. "It's also saying it's okay for the government to go into your private records, even if you haven't done anything wrong, to potentially restrict what you're able to do."

Sobel says he hopes activists will oppose CAPPS 2. And many are. Bill Scannell, the activist who led the successful boycott against Delta Airlines last spring, after the airline worked with the TSA to implement CAPPS II on an experimental basis, has established a new site, http://www.dontspyonus.com.

"To think that my own country that I served in the Army and all of that stuff, wants to put up internal border controls that I'm supposed to get permission granted to me to determine whether I can travel from one part of my country to another part of my country. It's appalling," Scannell says. The TSA projects that at least 5 percent of flyers might be coded yellow or red under CAPPS II. Under current security measures 15 percent of customers are flagged for further checks.

Even some conservative groups are raising questions about CAPPS 2. "There are procedural and operational questions that need to be worked out," says Charles Peña, a defense policy analyst for the CATO Institute, a Libertarian, non-profit research foundation in Washington, D.C.

"I'm all for catching criminals, but is this a counter-terrorism measure or is this a crime-fighting measure? The more you blur the two, the more you're on a slippery slope," says Peña. "And racial profiling is a concern that we cannot dismiss."

Profiling of Muslims after Sept. 11 will also add to the profiling of Blacks, says LaShawn Warren, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The Muslim faith is the fastest growing religion among African-Americans," Warren says. "And so, our concern is that this is going to unfairly impact African-Americans and it's going to target them."

The expansion of CAPPS 2 can be stopped in several ways, all requiring a coalition of people taking stands, say activists:
· Citizens contacting members of Congress and even local and state legislators could put pressure on the TSA to reconsider the plan;
· Congress could decide to make a law to defund the program and simply say no money can be spent on it;
· Airlines could rebel, saying they fear losing customers to other forms of transportation and
· Boycott and divest in companies and reservation systems that are used in conjunction CAPPS 2.

"I'm not saying there's not a problem. I'm saying that this is not a solution," says Sobel. "There's really no way to implement this. This system needs to be stopped."

By Al Kamen
Monday, September 8, 2003

Odd things, really odd things, can happen in Las Vegas. Take the case of FBI agent John T. Hanson III, who works out of the FBI's training center in Quantico.

Back on May 15, Hanson, 35, was visiting Las Vegas for an accounting seminar. At some point, he walked into the kitchen of the Barbary Coast casino, pulled out his .45-caliber Glock and squeezed off two rounds into a walk-in freezer, according to a police report.

Authorities say he allegedly was drinking. After he was collared, the police report said, "the suspect stated that he did not remember firing his weapon at any time." It was not clear what the freezer had done to offend or if service that evening had been slower than usual.

In any event, Hanson was detained and issued a citation for discharging a weapon in public. He surrendered his weapon to a local FBI agent.

Hanson pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor. Last month he paid a $65 court fine, $45 for Alcoholics Anonymous and more than $12,000 in restitution for damaging the freezer.

Local folklore has it that the bullets hit frozen lobsters, Todd Palmer, a spokesman for the FBI in Las Vegas, told our colleague Allan Lengel. But Palmer said it was not certain if that was the case, only that the freezer was full of frozen foods.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger said, "As far as the case is concerned, he got treated like anyone else under similar circumstances."

The FBI said it is conducting an internal probe, which could result in discipline or even dismissal. Maybe the freezer was trying to get away?

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

  • Michelle Gross
    published this page in 2004 Newsletters 2016-09-18 15:15:35 -0500

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