3/22/2003 Newsletter


  • Rickey Jones Court Support
  • Once Again, Cops Do No Wrong
  • Good PR vs. Good Policing
  • Breaking Down the Blue Wall of Silence
  • When a Child is Killed, by Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • Military Police Busted With Kkk, Nazi Literature After Cross Burning
  • Three Strikes... And More, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Friday, March 28
9:00 a.m.
Trial for Rickey Jones
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street in downtown Mineapolis

Rickey Jones is a professional photographer who has managed to capture on film incidents of Minneapolis Police abusing people in downtown Minneapolis. As a result, he has been targeted for harassment. The harassment has been carried out by four police officers in particular. He has been stopped repeatedly for phony traffic charges, etc. The current case involves being stopped for having a brake light out. Although he has reported the harassment to the Civilian Review Authority repeatedly, they have dismissed all of his complaints without even investigating them.

Despite the harassment, Rickey continues to document police abuse on film. We need to stand with this courageous man!

Please join us to provide court support. Go to the court information desk and ask for the number of the courtroom for Rickey Jones. You'll find us there, blue clipboards in hand. As always, court dates and times can change. Please call our hotline at 612-874-STOP to double check before coming to court.

More witless defense of brutal cops by the Police Federation. Okay, we know that the federation will always defend their own and we know that Rybak placed a gag order on the cops (see next article) so Delmonico is the only voice allowed on the cop side of the equation. But why aren't there ever any quotes in the Strib from folks on the community side of the equation?

Man shot by Minneapolis police remains in critical condition
David Chanen, Star Tribune
Published March 20, 2003

A man who was shot several times by two Minneapolis police officers after coming at them with a large knife was in critical condition Wednesday but is expected to recover.

The man rear-ended the officers' squad car, which was waiting at a stop sign at 10th and Washington Avs N. about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The officers, Nicolas Antila and Sean McGinty, were taking a 50-year-old man to the Hennepin County jail after his arrest on a felony drug possession warrant.

Police said the man who was shot, who hasn't been positively identified by authorities, was out of his car when the officers approached him. He turned his back to them and appeared as if he was going to run. Instead, he pulled out a 20-inch knife and came toward them, said Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.

Witnesses told investigators that Antila and McGinty told the man to put the knife down, but that when he refused they fired, said Rose ann Campagnoli, spokeswoman for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. Delmonico said the man was 10 to 12 feet from the officers.

It's unclear if he pulled the knife out of the car or if he had it on him. The intersection where the shooting happened was well lighted, Delmonico said.

The officers and Johnnie R. Gray, the person they were taking to jail, had minor injuries from the rear-ending accident. The officers were placed on a routine three-day leave. Neither Antila, who joined the department in 1999, nor McGinty, who joined in 1996, had been the subject of previous complaints, according to police disciplinary records.

The accident and Gray's arrest weren't related, Campagnoli said. Delmonico said the man's car didn't leave any skid marks. The Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting.

"These officers were doing what they believed was a routine part of their job when they were smashed into," Delmonico said. "They are both outstanding cops. Their lives will be changed forever, but they did the right thing."

David Chanen is at [email protected].

This commentary was sent to the Strib for publication in the immediate aftermath of Mayor Rybak's gag order on the Minneapolis Police PR department (ostensibly because they weren't giving the cops enough positive stories). Unfortunately, the Strib chose not to run it. Sad how the Strib's seeming affection for this administration and the DFL affect their willingness to take on the hard issues.

Good PR vs. Good Policing
By Michelle Gross
Communities United Against Police Brutality

Police and community relations has been the subject of many recent news stories. Allegations of brutality and inhumanity against an American Indian couple, a finding of homicide in the Christopher Burns case, concerns over the largely ineffectual Civilian Review Authority and continued delays in federal mediation have placed the issue squarely into the public's consciousness.

Yet, within a few days of a press conference and public hearing held by the American Indian community to discuss substantive issues of police treatment of their people, Mayor R.T. Rybak proposed a "Minnesota nice" solution. Instead of addressing the issues being raised, Rybak slapped a gag order on police, stating that the problem is police not giving themselves enough good PR (public relations).

It is true that police department PR is part of the problem, but not in the way Mayor Rybak suggests. After every major incident, police spokespeople go into immediate spin control, issuing press statements with conclusions about what happened even before an investigation has been conducted. This has the effect of vilifying the victim and ensuring that police will not be held accountable.

In the Christopher Burns case, for example, a man was killed in the bedroom of his own home by police within six minutes of their arrival, in front of his significant other and four children. His death was ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner. At the behest of the police department's spokesperson, media (including the Star Tribune) went to great pains to imply that the homicide ruling did not mean police had done anything wrong. Now, that's some serious spin.

The problem with police/community relations is not that police aren't saying enough good things about themselves. It is that they are not serving all communities in an equal and unbiased manner. If the city administration would simply listen, the people most affected by police issues will tell them what the problems are: cultural insensitivity and open hostility by some officers, excessive stops and harassment of people of color (especially in certain neighborhoods), withholding or delay of services to poor communities, brutality and thuggish behavior by some officers and, most of all, a lack of accountability. These problems cannot be explained away by good PR but they can be solved--with better training, better discipline and better management of the police department overall. Since the police chief reports to the mayor and city council, this would be the place for Rybak to start.

Federal mediation can address the issues and bring about real change. Yet Police Chief Olson has delayed the start of mediation for two months in an attempt to control who sits at the table for the community so that he can control the outcome of mediation. The mayor and city council should remind Olson who he works for and instruct him to come to the table now, before police/community relations get any worse.

This interesting article concerns a police officer in Portland who tried to anonymously report an incident of police brutality that was being swept aside by higher-ups and what happened to him as a result.

Sergeant recounts struggle over letter
03/08/03, Oregonian

When Portland police Sgt. Dirk Anderson decided to turn in off-duty officers who viciously beat a man outside a bar, he typed an anonymous letter, taking care to make it sound as if it had been written by someone who hated the police.

He intentionally misspelled words and used derogatory names to describe the cops. Careful not to leave his fingerprints on the letter, the former narcotics, vice and homicide investigator handled it with another piece of paper and slipped it into an envelope addressed to the Independent Police Review Division.

Then he dropped it in the mail.

The last thing he wanted was anyone to find out he was the letter's author. Anderson, a 22-year Portland Police Bureau veteran, understood the risks of breaking ranks with fellow officers.

The letter spurred a criminal investigation of the two officers and a lot of suspicion within the bureau. For three months, Anderson's secret was secure.

But by May, after the two officers were indicted and resigned, an internal inquiry began. He alerted the chief's office of his role, and word quickly got out. Officers began to shun him.

This week, Chief Mark Kroeker disciplined a precinct commander and six other officers, including Anderson. But matters are far from resolved for Anderson, who knows he will spend the rest of his career dealing with the consequences of that letter.

In an interview, he offered a rare glimpse into the struggle of a police officer wrestling with right and wrong and grappling with the reluctance of police officers to betray each other.

Anderson still questions his actions and wonders whether there was a better way to draw attention to the beating, but he finds solace in that he did the right thing.

"It was the safest way at the time to do something," Anderson said. "And it got results."

Yet, once Anderson divulged to the chief's office that he was the letter writer, he was transferred out of Central Precinct, placed in a nonsupervisory role in the auto theft task force and promised his name would be kept confidential.

The next day, he said, "It was bureauwide."

Although he got calls of support from longtime friends and colleagues, he also got cold looks. He avoided Central Precinct, but still got calls from some officers recounting what they heard others saying about him.

"I've had guys turn and walk away. . . . It's a real minority, but I know I'm going to be ostracized by a few," he said.

As his longtime partner Sgt. Bill Gray put it, "He's been totally ostracized by Central Precinct, all the way up to the commander."

Letter sent week after beating
Anderson sent the letter a week after the Jan. 24, 2002, beating by off-duty officers Grant Bailey and Craig Hampton of a man outside Stephanos nightclub.

Bailey and Hampton were still on active duty. No investigation had begun. And the scuttlebutt in the precinct was that it had been taken care of internally. The precinct commander had sent a memo to an assistant chief, saying the victim had a bloody nose and did not want to pursue charges.

"I hear it's resolved," a day-shift sergeant said in passing to Anderson one day.

"No, it's not," Anderson remembers thinking.

The bureau's handling of the case had continued to bother Anderson. Some younger officers had shared similar concerns with him. Anderson thought the commander and an assistant chief were already aware of what happened, so he found it futile to complain to a superior.

Without consulting anyone -- even his wife -- the 46-year-old father of two typed the letter on his home computer. Anderson expected it to be one of a dozen from outraged citizens. But his was the only complaint.

His letter reached the Independent Police Review Division Feb. 6, and the Portland Police Bureau's internal affairs division was notified nearly two weeks later, on Feb. 18. A criminal investigation was launched March 6.

The bureau put out a gag order, ordering Central Precinct police not to talk about the case. Suppositions flew among precinct officers clamoring to figure out who wrote the letter. Some mistakenly surmised that it was a firefighter who was at the scene, asking too many questions. Paranoia spread, with officers suspecting one another.

Anderson thought some cops probably suspected him because he had shared his concerns over coffee with several. He tried to stay focused on his job, but his secret was tough to contain.

"My stomach, I tell ya, I never had so many stomach problems," he said.

Grilled by prosecutors
During the criminal investigation, he was grilled by Multnomah County prosecutors John Bradley and Jim McIntyre.

Why hadn't he written an incident report? He was the first sergeant at the scene, so why didn't he take control?

On that Jan. 24 night, Anderson was about an hour into his graveyard shift when Officer Ryan Lee, a rookie still on probation, responded to a noise disturbance at Stephanos about 11 p.m. Anderson was not far behind.

The off-duty officers, Hampton and Bailey, were just leaving the club when Lee arrived. They had gotten into a dispute with a 32-year-old man at the bar and followed him out, then assaulted him two blocks away. Hampton knocked the man's head against a window, and Bailey flashed his badge at bystanders trying to intervene.

Anderson said he went into Stephanos to find witnesses to the bar fight and later interviewed the victim. Lee photographed the injuries, and fire medics treated the man's wounds: broken nose, eyes swollen shut, head and body bruises. The victim declined an ambulance and was adamant about not pressing charges, so an officer drove him home.

Meanwhile, two other sergeants and a lieutenant had responded. One of those sergeants alerted off-duty Lt. Gabe Kalmanek, Bailey's supervisor. Anderson told other supervisors at the scene they should write two incident reports, one on the bar fight and another on the outside assault.

But at Kalmanek's instruction, relayed through another sergeant, the officers on the scene were told not to write reports, but to keep notes on the call.

"My first thought was, 'Hey, it looks like we're trying to ditch this thing,' " Anderson said. "When they told me it was gonna stay in the notebooks, I felt it was a mistake from the beginning."

Didn't challenge lieutenant
In the precinct, Anderson, the junior sergeant that night, did not challenge the lieutenant's direction -- something that unnerves him to this day. It's for that that he's been disciplined.

"I think everyone in police work knows it doesn't happen that way," he said.

The grand jury in the case complained of a "cover-up" but held no officer criminally responsible.

Once the bureau began an internal inquiry, Anderson turned to his former partner, Sgt. Gray, and his younger brother, Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson, for advice. Should he tell the bureau he was the letter writer?

Their advice: "If you don't do it on your own, they're gonna find out eventually."

He confided in a superior officer and then told two assistant chiefs, the investigating commander and Kroeker.

"I told them it was a cowardly way to do it, but I was going to make sure it was dealt with," he said. "I just picked the wrong avenue."

Now Anderson, the bureau's liaison to the U.S. Marshal's office, must fight a five-day suspension.

"That didn't surprise me" Anderson said, "and I'll deal with it."

Anderson insists that "99.9 percent of the people here are great, but we all make mistakes. I think we did that night. I'm glad it's coming to an end. I just want to move on, but I know there's some who have long memories."

Maxine Bernstein: 503-221-8212; [email protected]

[Col. Writ. 2/22/03] Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

There is something unutterably terrible about the death of a child.

The universe seems to pitch and turn, and fall into itself when something so unnatural as a child leaves the realm of the living. On Christmas Eve, 2002 it happened.

Indeed, more than that happened.

A 12-year old boy was shot into eternity on that date, shot by a cop who would later claim that the boy was running from a suspected stolen car, with his hands in his pockets (!). Putting aside, for a minute, the absurdity of the image of one running with hands in one's pockets, the State Police would later claim that the boy, Michael Ellerbe, was shot because his partner had fallen, and he thought that he was shot.

The city of Uniontown is a fair-sized town, roughly 150,000 people, and it is the county seat of Fayette County in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It has a Black population roughly equal to the percentage of blacks in the nation's population, but population, standing alone, means little if that population doesn't have real representation, and more importantly, power.

There was a coroner's inquest into the case, but it was composed of an all-white jury. Despite the eyewitness testimony of a young white boy, who was looking at the shooting from his window, the jury and the judge running the show declined to charge the cops with anything. The witness recalled that he saw the two troopers shooting at the boy. A few days later, the local DA would announce that she would not charge them with anything.

In the wintry weather of February, some 300 Uniontowners and others gathered at the Fayette County Courthouse to protest the tragic killing, and to demand justice.

Michael Hickenbottom, the boy's father, spoke simply and eloquently to the gathering: "I'd like to thank particularly God who blessed each and everyone of us to be here today. The Pennsylvania State Police shot and killed my son and now they're trying to cover it up. I know there's love in this world when I look out and see all of you here today." (*New Pittsburgh Courier*, 2/19/03, p. A1,A2)

The family has filed a federal lawsuit charging civil rights violations and wrongful death.

Some of the marchers expressed anger that nationally known Black leaders did not join them in their protests against the Fayette County criminal 'justice system'. Many of the big names were invited, but none showed.

Pictures of the child show a boy with a sweet half-smile, a knowing glint in his eye, and a sense of the immortality that all children seem to delude themselves with.

Once again, the police have set forth the 'Amadou Diallo defense'; the 'I thought my partner was hit' bit. They are allowed the old 'I- was-just-doing-my-job' excuse, and are thus able to, quite literally, get away with the murder of children.

A child is dead, shot in the back by a minion of the State.

A Black child is dead, a hole burrowed into his heart.

Once again, a boy does not live to become a teenager.

A child is gone.

And according to the Law, no one is to be charged for it.

A Black boy is dead...again.

And these are supposed to be some of the folks "liberating" Iraq (if you believe Bush's line). Makes me cringe thinking about it.

Albuquerque Military Base Investigates Cross Burning
Associated Press
14 Mar 03

ALBUQUERQUE - Kirtland Air Force Base put four members of a security squadron on paid leave after they allegedly burned a cross in the back yard of a southeast Albuquerque home and participated in supremacist activities. The investigation turned up Ku Klux Klan literature, Nazi swastikas and Confederate flags, base spokesman Ralph Francis said Thursday. "None of those things in and of itself is illegal for a person to have," he said.

However, the military is investigating whether they are part of supremacist actions, defined in regulations as such things as publicly rallying or recruiting members for any organization that supports illegal discrimination.

"How it's being used and what the group does makes the determination, and that's what (the Office of Special Investigations) is investigating," Francis said.

The preliminary investigation indicates the cross burning was not directed at a particular individual, which would preclude it from being considered a hate crime, he said.

The four were arrested by Albuquerque police about midnight Saturday on charges of disorderly conduct and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after neighbors complained about a loud party. The delinquency charge came because they were drinking and one member of the group is under age 21, Francis said.

The members of the 377th security-forces squadron were turned over to base authorities, Francis said. He said he could not release their names because of the investigation.

They have been relieved of their military-police duty and restricted to base pending the findings, he said. Francis said they have been assigned other work.

"Cross burning is obviously inconsistent with Air Force standards. The Air Force doesn't tolerate this kind of behavior or any kind of discrimination," Francis said.

If they are found guilty, they could face penalties ranging from administrative action such as loss of pay or demotion to military discharge or a court-martial, Francis said. The military's action is not dependent on the civilian case, he said.

"We represent all races, nationalities, creeds. It is so inconsistent with standards for behavior for military people; that's why we are looking at it so seriously," Francis said.

He could not say when the investigation would be finished.

Three Strikes... And More
[Col. Writ. 3/13/03] Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

A man steals several videotapes from the friendly neighborhood K-Mart, and gets arrested. When sentenced for these petty thefts, he is cast into prison, for life!

Another man steals several golf clubs, and he too gets arrested for theft. When sentenced, he too is sent to prison, for life!

Both men committed their thievery in California, at a time when the infamous 'Three Strikes' law was in effect, and as both men had at least two prior felonies, both fell victim to the statute.

Both men had the added misfortune in appealing before the present Supreme Court, which promptly upheld the constitutionality of California's law, meaning the two men, Gary Ewing (the golf club guy), and Leandro Andrade (the videotape guy) will have to serve at least 25 years to life. Andrade, sentenced consecutively on two counts (one count each for each videotape) was sentenced to *50 years to life* in California gulags.

In 5-4 decisions in *Ewing v. California* and *Lockyer v. Andrade*, the nation's highest tribunal let stand these extremely punitive sanctions, saying essentially it would not "second guess" the legislature. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the minority in *Ewing*, argued that Ewing, his "recidivism notwithstanding", had made a strong claim that the sentence was "disproportionate", given the relatively minor charges -- the theft of three golf clubs. In *Andrade*, it was Justice David Souter who opined that the California courts' decision was "irrational", saying, "Andrade did not somehow become twice as dangerous to society when he stole the second handful of videotapes."

Both cases reveal the power in the nation's courts of that old idea of "state's rights." In short, almost anything goes.

What makes it even more alarming is what is happening to California, at the same time Messrs. Ewing and Andrade have to look at quarter-century, and half-century prison bits. In San Francisco, California, leading members and executives of the city's police department have been indicted by grand juries for their role in the police cover-up of a brutal attack on civilians.

What is the connection, one wonders?

Simple. At the base of the 'Frisco cop scandal is the charge that three off-duty cops assaulted two men, after they refused to give the 3 a bag of steak fajitas. Moments after the fight began, one of the men, Adam Snyder, flicked open his cell phone, and dialed 911, telling the dispatcher, "I need some cops fast!" He tells the dispatcher that he just got off work (Snyder is a bartender), and "they just started fighting us, over nothing." Snyder's cell phone call proves that he hadn't the slightest idea that the three men who attacked him and his friend, Jade Santoro, were cops. They also couldn't have known that the three men, Matthew Tonsing, David Lee, and Alex Fagan, Jr., had recently left a celebration of the appointment of one of the men's fathers, Alex Fagan, Sr. to Asst. Chief of the Police Department. After celebrating at a banquet for Fagan, Sr., the three hit a bar on Union Street for liquid refreshments. An argument could be made that the three, probably inebriated after a night of 'celebrating', lost their cool when, under the haze of alcohol, the arresting aroma of steak fajitas hit them, and they simply had to have them.

Then comes Alex Fagan, Jr. According to a series of reports in the *San Francisco Chronicle*, Junior has had at least 16 violent encounters with people in 13 months, and has sent 6 of them to the hospital. He reportedly body-slammed a 5-foot-4, 124-pound woman, Monise Brown, after she kicked a cop car that almost ran over her feet. Two days before his body slam of a handcuffed woman, Fagan reportedly hog-tied a man accused of punching a woman. The hog-tie method has caused deaths in some cases from suffocation. The man was hospitalized for respiratory problems. Another man, suspected of stealing a car was kicked in the head by Fagan. Yet another was beaten so badly that several ribs were broken, and his lung was punctured by the 23-year old cop.

What distinguishes these cases is that Fagan did most of his 'wilding' in the predominantly Black Bayview area, and except for an occasional anger management class, the department ignored it. The fajita caper took place on Union St., an upscale part of town. Oh yeah; and the Union St. people were white.

What's the connection, you wonder?

Well, consider this. One man beats and hurts people, repeatedly, sending half a dozen to the hospital.

Another guy steals 3 golf clubs. Another guy steals several videotapes. All three may be called repeat offenders, but who goes to jail? For life?

It may be shown, on the other hand, that Fagan, as a cop, works for the system, and because of the rank and power of his father (who was among the indictees), may never be sanctioned for the legalized violence of which he is a part. Indeed, after the current scandal plays itself out, neither he, nor any of the other 9 cops involved, may ever see the inside of a prison cell.

One may, in fact, rise to the highest levels of the department, putting others in jail, for their breaches of the law, and paid well by the citizens of the city.

While two others languish in a man-made brick and steel hell, for the rest of their days, because the nation's highest court dared not "second guess" the legislature.

That is the face of the law today as America enters a new century; remarkably similar to that of the old.

(sources: *San Francisco Chronicle*, Sat., Mar. 1, 2003; Sun. Mar. 2, 2003)

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

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