4/13/2003 Newsletter


  • Rally to Demand Justice for Chris Burns
  • Rasheem Figaro Trial
  • INS/City Separation Ordinance

We the people demand justice in the Chris Burns case. We demand that killer cops be held accountable for their actions.

Wednesday, April 16
4:30 p.m.
New Federal Building
300 S 4th Street
As you have probably read in the papers, a grand jury ruled that police were "justified" in murdering Christopher Burns, despite the fact that the medical examiner had previously ruled his killing a homicide. We STRONGLY DISAGREE with that grand jury ruling and are outraged over this attempt to whitewash a police murder. Here are some things you need to know:

  • The county prosecutor, Amy Klobuchar, was not required to even take this case to a grand jury. She could have chosen to prosecute the cops directly. Grand jury proceedings are done primarily to get prosecutors off the hook on politically sensitive cases and to give them an out for not prosecuting cops. In fact, this tool is so effective at preventing brutal cops from being prosecuted that THERE HAS NOT BEEN A SINGLE INDICTMENT OF A MINNEAPOLIS COP IN THE DEATH OF A COMMUNITY MEMBER IN SEVERAL DECADES (according to the county prosecutor's own records).
  • The county prosecutor could still choose to prosecute the cops or could appoint a special prosecutor (which is what we demanded in the first place) but it is almost certain that this will not happen, now that they have engineered this unjust grand jury result.
  • Reports in the media have stated that Mr. Burns had a fractured thyroid cartilage. Vascular neck restraint does not cause this kind of fracture at the front of the neck, but choking sure does. In fact, fractured thyroid cartilage is the tell-tale sign forensic scientists use to show that choking has occurred. For more information, see http://www.doctorhoffman.com/wwvoice.htm
  • Mr. Burns had other injuries, including possible facial fractures, that have not been reported in the media. There has been no accounting about how these injuries were sustained.
  • Since when is it accepted police procedure to put someone down on a mattress and cover their head with a pillow (as stated in the media)--especially WHILE THEY ARE HANDCUFFED?

We are not going to accept another scam grand jury result! WE MUST NOT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH THIS! We demand:

  • A REAL investigation--a Federal civil rights investigation
  • A special prosecutor be appointed
  • The cops involved be prosecuted

On Wednesday, April 16th, make a stand for justice and against police terrorism of our communities. BE THERE!

Thanks to dedicated reporter Erik Williams, there will be national news coverage on this case on Pacifica station WBAI at 5:00 p.m. central time tomorrow (Monday). Go to www.WBAI.org and click on WBAI Evening News Audio to hear the report.


Starting Monday, April 14th
9:00 a.m.
Ramsey County Courthouse
15 W Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul

Rasheem Figaro is a young man who was arguing with an acquaintance on University Avenue near the McDonalds on Rice Street. People in the McDonalds saw the altercation and assumed he was a purse snatcher. They came out of the McDonalds, grabbed Rasheem, and pushed him to the ground and tried to sit on him. Out of fright, he wriggled out of his shirt and jacket and escaped to his truck. As he was driving away, a St. Paul police officer ran along the side of his truck, jumped on hood and shot Rasheem twice through the windshield. Several months later, Rasheem's arm is still partially paralyzed, with an unhealed collar bone fracture and infection from a bullet fragment. He has not been able to get the medical care he needs because he has been in jail, with a high bail. His charge? Felony assault of the police officer. In other words, they are charging him with WHAT THEY DID TO HIM.

Rasheem's trial starts tomorrow. The family is frightened and badly in need of court support. They have been vilified in the press, as often happens in these cases, but after months of working with this family, we can attest that these are hard working, caring people who only want justice and want Rasheem to get the medical care he needs.

If you are not able to make it tomorrow, the case is likely to go on for a number of days. Please call our hotline at 612-874-STOP for updates on the status of the case.

As part of repressive "homeland security" measures that target immigrants, John Ashcroft personally issued a request for all local police departments to sign letters of agreement to become extensions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In other words, Ashcroft wants our cops to become INS agents so that he can send them out to round up undocumented people.

For many reasons, this is a bad idea. This plan will only increase tensions and fear between immigrants and the cops. Every traffic stop or accident involving an immigrant will become a nightmare. Undocumented people who are robbed or raped will be afraid to call police for fear that THEY will be the ones arrested. Moreover, in these times of budget crunches, we don't need to have local police officers doing federal work.

The Local Impacts Working Group of the Civil Liberties Defense Coalition has done a great job of educating people about this issue. They are now taking a proposed ordinance before the Minneapolis city council that would block any INS/Cop deal. There will be a number of hearings before committees and the council as a whole and YOUR PRESENCE IS NEEDED to support this ordinance. In addition, your council member needs to hear from you that you support this ordinance. Give your council member a call and mark these dates on your calendar:

Note: All meetings held at Minneapolis City Hall, Room 317 (City Council Chambers)

  • Monday April 14, 2003 at 1:30pm: Ways & Means Committee will discuss ordinance and schedule a public hearing.
  • Monday April 28, 2003 at 1:30pm: Ways & Means Committee public hearing and vote. THIS IS A KEY MEETING TO ATTEND!
  • Tuesday April 29, 2003 at 9:30am: Intergovernmental Committee may meet to consider the Ordinance.
  • Friday May 4, 2003 beginning at 9:30am: City Council will vote on ordinance. ANOTHER KEY MEETING TO ATTEND!

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

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