- Press Conference: Hold Jeffrey Rice Accountable
- CUAPB Wins Prestigious Statewide Award
- CUAPB Efforts to Support Data Access Rights
- Analysis of Walter Scott Killing
PRESS CONFERENCE: HOLD JEFFREY RICE ACCOUNTABLE
Tuesday, April 14
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th St, Minneapolis
Main level—at the fountain
On Thursday, November 25, 2014, thousands turned out for our protest after the grand jury decision was announced in Ferguson PD murder of Michael Brown. Eventually, the crowd grew so large that it spilled into the street and marshals created a traffic lane and directed traffic to allow drivers to safely leave the area. Despite these efforts, disgruntled driver Jeffrey Rice moved out of the traffic lane and drove straight into the crowd. He then backed up and did it again, pinning attendee Valencia C. under his car and running over her leg. Rice then took off, leaving Valencia injured and traumatized. The KSTP news helicopter followed him until police stopped him. The whole incident can be seen here.
Now you would think that a guy who deliberately runs someone over then leaves the scene would be arrested and charged with serious offenses, including hit and run. Somehow, though, this is not the case. Initially Rice was listed in police reports as the victim—we couldn’t make this stuff up! Not only was Rice not arrested, but he faces no serious charges at all. Instead, he goes to court on Tuesday, April 14, for reckless driving and other minor charges. Essentially, the cops are saying that what he did was okay, since the victim was protesting police brutality. This is nothing less than open season on protesters for engaging in First Amendment-protected activities.
Please join us for a press conference Tuesday morning to denounce the lack of charges and special treatment given to Jeffrey Rice and to stand in solidarity with Valencia and her family. Members of the family will be present at the press conference.
CUAPB WINS PRESTIGIOUS STATEWIDE AWARD
Minnesota Campus Compact is an organization of colleges and universities from around the state that promotes student engagement and leadership in the community and active learning through service learning projects. For over a decade, CUAPB had worked with students from the U of M, Macalester, Hamline and other programs to give students real world experience tackling police accountability issues.
We love working with students and are so very proud to be this year's recipient of the Minnesota Campus Compact Presidents' Award. Below is the write up from the U of M Service Learning newsletter. We are so grateful to them for their support and the work we do together.
Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) will receive the Presidents' Community Partner Award on April 16 "for a community-based organization that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and has engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with the college or university, thus enriching educational as well as community outcomes." In the last 10 years, CUAPB, an all-volunteer organization, has engaged over 160 U of M service-learning students in their work of ending police brutality by holding police accountable, educating the public about the issue and their rights, and advocating for policy changes to improve policing in our communities.
CUAPB EFFORTS TO SUPPORT DATA ACCESS RIGHTS
What follows is a nice article on how we worked with activists and attorneys in Texas to help them preserve their rights to access government data. We routinely take on these battles here and are happy to be able to help others. Attorney Tim Phillips represented us in crafting this successful amicus brief and we are grateful to him for his efforts.
Texas Supreme Court Rejects Red Light Camera Arguments
Texas Supreme Court refuses to block anti-camera election in Arlington, orders disclosure of camera related accident data in Houston.
A red light camera court case has yet to reach the highest court in Texas, but justices have recently issued a pair of orders that dealt a setback to the automated ticketing industry. Last week, the judges denied the request of attorneys for American Traffic Solution (ATS) who begged the Supreme Court to intervene in an upcoming election to prevent residents of Arlington from voting on a red light camera ban.
Last month, a Tarrant County judge said he lacked the jurisdiction to block the May 9 ballot item. Without elaborating, the Supreme Court issued an order denying the appeal of ATS lawyer Andy Taylor.
In another little noticed decision last month, the state Supreme Court dealt a legal blow to the automated ticketing industry in a case stemming from the city of Houston's failed effort to keep its citizens from voting out red light cameras five years ago. Although residents voted down red light cameras by a healthy margin in November 2010, the city refused to turn over documents detailing the number of accidents at photo enforced intersections in advance of the vote. Randall Kallinen and Paul Kubosh, organizers of the successful anti-camera referendum, filed a lawsuit to get the data.
In a highly technical legal maneuver, Houston requested a decision from the attorney general on whether the information could be withheld or not. The city then argued Kallinen and Kubosh could not sue to have the requested information released because they had to first exhaust their remedies with the attorney general. The high court rejected the city's claim.
"[Public information] requestors cannot be required to finish something they have no right to start," the justices wrote in a per curiam decision. "The requirement that a governmental body seek a ruling from the attorney general when withholding requested information is a check on the governmental body, not a remedy for the requestor to exhaust."
Non-profit groups, including Communities United Against Police Brutality, filed friend of the court briefs supporting Kallinen out of fear that the Houston precedent would be used to hide official misconduct.
"To require an attorney general ruling before a requestor may bring an action to compel the disclosure of public information constitutes a loophole, giving a governmental body a chance to avoid having to supply public information," the group wrote. "If a governmental body can delay supplying public information, this allows the temporary suppression of mistakes or irregularities that should be immediately open to the scrutiny of the press and the general public."
The justices remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings. A copy of the ruling is available in a 70k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: Kallinen v. Houston (Texas Supreme Court, 3/20/2015)
ANALYSIS OF WALTER SCOTT KILLING
By now, most people have heard about the deadly shooting of Walter Scott, unarmed, in South Carolina during a traffic stop. The video is unambiguous, showing officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away, handcuffing the dying man, then planting a Taser on him after he died. But for a video that exposed the whole thing, Slager would have gotten away with murder like so many killer cops before him.
Walter Scott's Killing Is a Direct Result of the State of Policing in America Today
By Ezekiel Edwards
April 10, 2015
It's déjà vu. And it's also a nightmare.
Police gunning down unarmed black men and boys is an American horror film that keeps getting replayed. Except that it isn't a movie you can turn off: It's a painful, outrageous, and unacceptable reality.
The latest iteration is the shooting of Walter Scott -- pulled over for a traffic violation, and who allegedly owed child support -- by a South Carolina police officer. As Scott ran away from the officer, four bullets slammed into his back and one hit his ear. After the shooting, the officer walked calmly over to Mr. Scott's body, lying in the grass -- and then, for good measure, handcuffed him.
Why was Walter Scott killed? Why does this keep happening?
Did we not just see a South Carolina police officer shoot Levar Jones for trying to retrieve his driver's license at the officer's request at a gas station? Did we not just watch Eric Garner, an unarmed man, choked to death in Staten Island while being arrested for selling cigarettes on the street? Are we not still grappling with 12-year-oldTamir Rice being shot and killed in a Cleveland park while playing with a toy gun within seconds of police arriving? Did we not just recoil from images of Michael Brown's lifeless body left unattended in the street for hours?
Have we not recently heard the testimony of Milton Hall's mother recalling how her son's life ended in a barrage of 45 bullets in Saginaw, Michigan? What about thekilling of Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee, shot 14 times after an altercation with the police because he was sleeping in a park? Or John Crawford in a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio, gunned down for picking up a BB gun in the sporting goods section?
The list is long, and yet there are hundreds more that haven't gone viral online or been caught on video.
The tsunami of incidents of police brutality against communities of color has further frayed America's trust and confidence in police departments to achieve their singular function in our society: to serve and to protect our families and communities. The slaying of Walter Scott shows that all too often the police perform the opposite function, by terrorizing and profiling people of color.
And for what?
Steps to halt this parade of horrors have been taken, but we're not there yet. We have a long way to go. Recommendations put forth by the President's Task Force for 21st Century Policing, DOJ's announcement of resources for pilot sites in six cities aimed at strengthening the bonds between police and citizens, reports of and recommendations to end jaw-dropping racial profiling and selective enforcement of low-level offenses in communities of color -- all of these are important efforts. Yet the number of tragic and avoidable killings of people of color continues to mount.
In addition to the steps above, police departments need to shed their abusive and profiling pasts and recommit themselves to the communities they are responsible for serving. This promise must be grounded in the principle of dignity and respect for the community. Police must see their departments and officers as part of the fabric of the community. Police departments need to reconsider their enforcement priorities and to start treating arrests as rare commodities to be used sparingly.
Our country's addiction to arrests and incarceration has created fear in poorer communities of being arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses, prompting interactions with police that we have seen time and again escalate quickly into unnecessary tragedies. A moment of conjecture: If Walter Scott does not fear that a routine traffic stop or owing money is going to lead to his arrest and possible imprisonment, does he flee from the officer? Is he alive today?
Police need robust training for police officers on de-escalation techniques, relegating force to a last resort. Force should be understood on a continuum that allows for only the minimum force necessary in any given situation. Police need to ban racial profiling, provide implicit bias trainings, and train officers on how to practice procedural justice. When officers or departments violate policy or break the law, those departments and state officials must hold the responsible parties accountable.
We welcome the swift action in this case by North Charleston -- undoubtedly propelled here only by the existence of a damning video -- in bringing charges against the police officer. Video or no video, prompt investigation and appropriate action following a police shooting -- just as with any possible crime -- should be the rule nationwide, not the exception.
But these incidents are more than just bad-apple cops: The problem of unjustified lethal force is endemic.
Sadly, we only know part of the story because we have no uniform, comprehensive reporting requirements of police shootings. The data just doesn't exist. Indeed, even after the many discussions of police force generated by these incidents in recent months, and notwithstanding the DOJ's documentation of widespread problems around use of force in Cleveland and the use of unreasonable force and racial profilingin Ferguson, we have not been able to reconcile the mandate of fair, constitutional, and humane law enforcement with the current status of American policing.
The unjustified killings of unarmed people of color by police, often arising from racial profiling or enforcement of minor offenses, continue with reckless and tragic abandon. The steps taken by DOJ are very important, but much, much more needs to be done.
Walter Scott should be alive, and at home. Instead, he's dead. His death is not an aberration. It is a direct result of the current state of policing in many parts of America today.