4/15/2007 Newsletter


  • ICE Raids in Willmar
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal Case Update
  • Busting the "Cops Have a Dangerous Job" Myth


[The following is from Centro Campesino and MN Immigrant Freedom Network and highlights an urgent situation.  Scroll down for info on tonight's rally, which CUAPB endorses.  Please take action today!]

ICE is currently doing raids in Willmar!  Please take action to stop the deportations and racial profiling!

Last night, over 150 people attended a community meeting organized by RAICES, a community based group in Willmar Mn.  The community came together to stand strong and seek legal advice from Centro Legal and allies.  This community meeting reported that for the fourth day in a row, ICE agents have been terrorizing the Willmar community.  Currently, there are three buses roaming the city getting ready to take our community members away.  ICE is tearing families apart, children as young as two years old have been separated from their mothers.  Other young ones in the meeting shed tears in fear their loved ones would be taken away.

Allegations that ICE agents are entering homes without warrants for detention or search have been confirmed by families present at last night's RAICES community meeting. The West Central Tribune reports that federal agents were using racial profiling to ask Latino looking people for their identification papers outside of Wal-Mart.

Take these actions:

1) Call Tim Counts, ICE Community Relations officer at 952-853-2602 and demand these raids be stopped.

2) Come to a community gathering and candle light vigil TONIGHT to call for a moratorium on deportations and raids in our Minnesota communities. 

Stop the Deportations Rally and Vigil
Sunday, April 15, 2007
6:30 p.m.
Ramsey County Jail
425 Grove Street, St. Paul

Bring stuffed animals, family photos, flowers and candles to value our families and bring hope to the children and people who have been torn apart by recent immigration raids.  Let's stand together for humane immigration reform and against terrorizing ICE activity.  This event is being organized by Jewish Community Action (JCA), Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition (MIRAC) and Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network (MIFN).

Bear in mind that Maria Inamagua died in the Ramsey county jail from lack of medical care.  Her crime? She was being detained for an immigration violation.  We have worked with a number of cases in which medical care was withheld at that jail.  Jail conditions will be part one of the issues raised at this event.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner on death row.  He was convicted of killing a Philadelphia cop but significant evidence (including the confession of another man) shows that he is innocent.  As a radio and print journalist, Mumia reported truthfully about police brutality and was dubbed "voice of the voiceless" by his community--with cops gunning for him ever since.  His case is moving into its final appeals.

As supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal prepare for his case to go back to court on May 17th in Philadelphia,  Ramona Africa is coming to town next week to give an update on Mumia's case and to raise badly needed funds for his legal defense. 

Dinner and Discussion with Ramona Africa
Thursday April 19th, 6 p.m.
Jack Pine Community Center
2815 E Lake Street, Minneapolis
$5-$15 dollars suggested--no one turned away for lack of funds
Vegetarian meal included

Ramona Africa is the only adult survivor of the May 13th, 1985 bombing of the MOVE family by the Philadelphia police and city officials. Ramona was immediately taken into custody and eventually convicted on trumped-up charges of riot and conspiracy.  She spent the next seven years in prison. Immediately upon her release, she rejoined her family's struggle to free all remaining MOVE political prisoners, including the MOVE9 and Mumia Abu-Jamal. This event is part of a tour meant to raise awareness about the MOVE 9, who are preparing for the possibility of parole in 2008.

Sponsored by the Twin Cities Eco-Prisoner Support Committee.  For more information: ecoprisoners.googlepages.com or (612)729-2837

Police Deaths, Planting Petunias, and Procreation
Marie De Santis, Women's Justice Center

Everyday police are out there risking their lives for you and me. Or are they really? And what urgent difference does it make to you, your sisters, your daughters, and friends?

Before reading any further, try this quick test. Rank the following six occupations according to their rate of on-the-job fatalities, starting from the most dangerous to the least dangerous: air pilot, police officer, truck driver, electrician, construction laborer, gardener (non-farm). Chances are, if you've ever watched TV, or listened to cops defend their conduct, or read newspaper editorials supporting the police, or heard broadcasts of the funeral orations in memory of a slain officer, or just plain lived on the planet, chances are you flunked the test royally.

Here is the correct ranking from the U.S. Department of Labor, along with a few other occupations to give you an idea of the range. (From U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Fatalities per 100,000, Year 1999.)

  • Commercial Fishermen 162
  • Timber Cutters 154
  • Air Pilots 65
  • Construction Laborers 37
  • Garbage Collectors 34
  • Truck Drivers 28
  • Electricians 12
  • Gardeners (non farm) 11
  • Police 11
  • Carpenters 7

So the real deal is this, police officers don't lay their lives on the line any more than the person who plants the petunias on your patio. The numbers vary some from year to year, but the ranking of fatality rates remains basically the same as you see it here.

It's said that you can't fool all the people all of the time, yet this highly exaggerated myth of the dangerousness of police work has come pretty close to doing just that. The entire American public has been bamboozled with this myth for a very long time. As you can see just from the abbreviated list of occupations above, many, many other workers, including many who work in public service, suffer far higher fatality rates than police.

And when, for example, the city gardener dies on the job serving you, there's no fanfare, no flags flown at half mast, no five foot flower monuments flown in from near and far. No motorcycle caravans of gardeners swarming into the funeral from seven neighboring states. No headlines at the top of the news for three days running. No city and state officials clamoring for a place to mourn at the casket.

What is it with the police? Their familiar refrains are known in every town and hamlet of the nation. "Our wives have to worry everyday whether of not we're going to come home at night." Doesn't the gardener's spouse have to worry just as much? "We never speak out against another cop, because we depend on each other for our lives." Don't gardeners depend on each other when rock walls shift, structures collapse, or machinery turns rogue? Of course they do, just as much, and as often, and as life-and-death, as the police.

But different from gardeners, police have immense powers over people, and too often can misuse that power to create myths to get more power. Here's a couple of first thoughts to start the debate as to why this myth of police dangerousness exists and how it harms our communities.

1. By cultivating a hyper-inflated myth of heros sacrificing their lives for you, police have created a shield of public veneration to defend against criticism of any misdeed. Who then can blame police for building arsenals against the citizens, for firing at first blink, for mafia-like codes of silence? Who then can refuse police funding requests for ever more militarized arms?

2. The myth of dangerousness keeps women out of policing, and keeps police power concentrated in the hands of men. The supposed danger of police work is one of the main reasons women give for not going into policing. Women lose out on a great job, and communities lose out on the exceptional skills women bring to the job, not the least of which is dramatically lower rates of excessive use of force, and the better communication skills that de-escalate violence and save lives.

3. The myth of police dangerousness again and again attracts the wrong kind of people to the job. A hyper male ego is the last thing that's needed at ground zero on the critical fault lines of society's problems. And it's the last thing that's needed to handle crimes of violence against women which accounts for about a third of all police calls.

4. The myth of the dangerousness of policing keeps police wives scared to death and under control. How do you get up the nerve to insist that the warrior hero who faces death around every corner do his share of scrubbing the bathroom floor?

5. Too many police officers believe this myth themselves, and reach for the gun at the first blink of an eye, and then later, all can be explained with the refrain, "Our lives are on the line."

Here's a couple other facts that should be taken into account. The majority of police on-the-job fatalities are not caused by bad guys shooting at the cops. The majority of police on-the-job fatalities are caused by vehicle accidents.

And maybe this next fact is most pertinent of all to the question of how, and why, and what difference it makes who society selects for its heros. Although the Department of Labor doesn't include motherhood as an occupation, other national studies show that childbearing in the U.S. has a fatality rate on a par with policing.

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright Marie De Santis, Women's Justice Center, www.justicewomen.com

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

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