5/14/2007 Newsletter


  • Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Life on the Line
  • MPD Riot Downtown at Club Closing
  • Excessive Cop Expenditures Sucking Life Out of Minneapolis
  • "False Reporting" Lawsuit
  • Cops Ordered to "Take More Blacks to Jail"

Video Showing and Educational Event

Thursday, May 17
6:30 p.m.
Jack Pine Community Center
2815 Lake Street, Minneapolis

Pennsylvania prisoner and dissident journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent 25 years on death row fighting for his life.  In 1982, an all-white jury and the racist Judge Albert Sabo--who told the prosecutor he would "help fry that n*gger"--convicted Mumia of the murder of a police officer. Physical evidence (such as 'disappeared' ballistics), violently coerced witnesses recanting testimony and many of the other irregularities seen in exonerated death penalty prisoners' cases prove Mumia's innocence.  Another man has come forward to state that he shot the officer.  None of this has ever been heard by a jury--and Mumia is fighting for a new trial and a chance to prove his innocence.
Cops never had interest in finding out who really killed fellow officer Daniel Faulkner.  Mumia was well known to them as a journalist who reported truthfully about police brutality in the crucible of a racially polarized Philadelphia, 1970s.  As a teenager writing for the Philadelphia Black Panther Party newspaper, then as a radio journalist Mumia dogged the Philly police and ex-chief Mayor Frank Rizzo, exposing brutality and corruption.  At a press conference after police shot an unarmed Black man, Rizzo told Jamal, "someday you're going to pay for what you're writing and saying."
Philadelphia's African-American community called Mumia "Voice of the Voiceless," which he remains even behind bars, writing four books and recording hundreds of radio commentaries. He's won the PEN award, been made an honorary citizen of Paris and sparked an international movement in his defense.
On May 17th, Mumia heads to court in Philadelphia in what may be one of his last appeals.  A mass presence in Philadelphia that day will be matched by events in cities and towns all over the world.  Come and learn about the case of this extraordinary man and about why his case represents all that is wrong with the death penalty and the criminal "justice" system in the U.S.

MPD Riot After Club Closing Causes Many Injuries

Calls poured into our hotline last night with on-the-scene reports of a police riot outside of the Cream nightclub in downtown Minneapolis at closing time.  Apparently there was a fight at the club and to get to it, large numbers of cops used pepper spray and batons on people attempting to leave the club.  Horses were also used on the crowd.  One woman reported a horse stepping on her legs, breaking both ankles.  Because she was unable to move due to her injuries, she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.  Others were injured and arrested, though exact numbers are not known at the time.  There were reports of people running from police, who swung billy clubs and swept streams of pepper spray over large numbers of people, making it hard to get away from the scene.

There appears to be no coverage of this incident in the media, though KSTP ran an article on their website this morning looking for footage of the incident.  After that, everything seems to have fallen off the radar screen.

There are many reasons this incident could have gone down the way it did--cops were bored or had poor skills but most likely this is tied to showing the administration that the $750,000 just allocated for "downtown crime prevention" (see article below) is needed to "keep the hoodlums under control."  Based on the reports we got, seems like it is the hoodlums in blue that need to be brought under control.

Like a greedy monster, MPD gobbles up funds that could be used for libraries, housing

Last year, it was $163,000 for new Tasers and $500,000 to rent their State Trooper and Hennepin County sheriff buddies for summertime ass whuppin' fun downtown.  This year its another $750,000 (they only asked for $500,000 but the city council was feeling generous) for rent-a-buddy cops to ensure Blacks can't go downtown without feeling the ever-present boot of repression and a request for $861,000 for new Tasers.  Meanwhile, three libraries closed--and the Minneapolis Public Library system was forced to merge with the Hennepin County system just to stay alive.  Affordable housing is disappearing at a rate of hundreds of units a year--the city never has money for housing--and the only reason homeless people have shelter on any given night is because of private charity.  Yet somehow we find all this extra money for cops--even though they already have a budget of $119.69 million for 2007 (and they get extra dough for property seizures, fees, fines and other "revenue"). 

That our city council has already given them $1.413 million in extra funding for more Tasers and more buddies to hang out with for the summer is bad enough (last summer there were literally gangs of cops every 10 feet on the sidewalk, many looking bored and popping off smart remarks or harassing non-white downtown patrons) .  Now the cops want that $861,000 for even more Tasers over the next two years.  Bear in mind that during part of that time, they expect to be flush with homeland security cash and other dough related to 2008 RNC security.  The repubs will already be buying them lots of shiny new toys--why do they need even more of the taxpayer's money?

Next time you see the libraries holding book sales to stay open or a battered woman and her children huddled in a shelter doorway or sleeping in a van, think how great it must be for any one of the 1100 employees of the MPD, whose employer spends over $108,800 per employee on salary and accoutrements.  How wonderful to be one of the privileged few that can get whatever you want from the city council, just by holding out your hand.  Maybe those of us from whose hides these extra funds our taken would like to see less funding for police state measures and more money for services that help people stay out of the grips of law enforcement.

"False Reporting" Law Must Go!

CUAPB as an organization along with individual community members filed a federal declaratory judgement lawsuit on May 3rd to overturn a terrible state law passed enacted two years ago to prohibit so-called "false reporting" of complaints against police.  This law did not indicate who would decide a complaint is false and it even criminalizes "causing a complaint to be filed" which means that journalists who write about police brutality cases, lawyers who use the affirmative defense of police misconduct or bring civil suits on behalf of their clients, and even advocates such as activists with CUAPB could be charged under this law.  Not only does this abridge free speech and the chill right of community members to file complaints but it only criminalizes speech against the cops, not speech favoring cops.  Further, it doesn't do anything to address the very real problem of cops lying in police reports or testilying in court.

We want to thank everyone who came out to our press conference that day to support us.  We will keep you informed of the progress of this suit, which we have high hopes will be successful in striking down this unfair and unconstitutional law.  Here's a blurb about the press conference from KARE 11.  If you click on the link, you can see video footage.

Lawsuit filed over false reporting law

It is hard enough to be a victim of police brutality. Victim advocates say it can be even harder to report it.

A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday suggests a recent Minnesota law has the potential to silence anyone who has a complaint about police.

The suit is over a law passed by the legislature two years ago, making it a crime to file a false report of police misconduct. Members of the organization, Communities United Against Police Brutality, say it has a chilling effect on people who have even legitimate claims.

"We believe this deters reports of criminal conduct by police because people are afraid that they could end up with a felony charge," Jill Clark, the attorney who filed the lawsuit said.

"It allows the police, the very same police who have in some cases brutalized you, to just decide whether your complaint is valid. We don't know of any other profession where the very same people who do the act could actually decide whether that act was criminal," Michelle Gross with the group Communities United Against Police Brutality explained.

DFL representative Debra Hillstrom co-authored the bill. She says to be charged with anything investigators have to prove the person knowingly and willingly made a false report. Hillstrom says the law protects officers who are falsely accused.

"The intent was not to stop people who have a legitimate claim to file a claim," Hillstrom said. "The minute an officer is put on administrative leave it makes the press, it makes the news. It's on TV. It's in the paper, so much of the time there's an assumption that officer is guilt immediately even if they find the report was filed falsely."

The group filing the suit says the law violates the First Amendment. They hope a federal judge will strike it down as unconstitutional.

No one has been charged under the false reporting law since it was passed in 2005.

According to Communities United Against Police Brutality, the group receives 25 to 30 complaint calls about alleged police misconduct each month.

Given the directive to Minneapolis cops that if they hurt someone they also have to arrest that person, this scenario sounds painfully familiar.

White Former LA County Sheriff's Deputy Says Superiors Ordered Him to 'Take More Blacks To Jail'

Former law enforcement officer, Garrett Shah, who is white, alleges that his "racist" superiors ordered him to railroad blacks. Shah, who is afraid for his safety, is suing the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

A white former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy says he is marked for death because he has dared to speak out against his superiors in the Sheriff's Department for what he claims were their orders for him to "take more blacks to jail."

This and even more startling allegations were made in a lawsuit filed in federal court by Officer Garrett Shah, a former member of the Compton Police Department who became a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after the Compton Police Department was disbanded.

Wearing a bulletproof vest and routinely scanning his surroundings at a West Los Angeles eatery, Shah mentioned several times during an exclusive interview with the L.A. Watts Times, "I'm a dead man."

"I wear a vest everywhere I go because I know they are going to kill me," he said.

The suit, which was originally filed in February 2006 and has since been amended twice, describes a department in which deputies not only target African Americans for felony arrests, but also participated in "planting illegal items on African Americans, using neighboring law enforcement agencies to make unwarranted arrests of African Americans and lying in Court proceedings concerning such wrongful conduct."

"I know (there are) hundreds of blacks right now sitting in prison for crimes they did not commit simply because they are black and they are doing 10, 30 years," Shah asserted.

"It looks good when you have stats, what we call pat stats when you make so many felony arrests, when you make so many misdemeanor arrests. It looks good. It even looks better to the racist supervisors who are in there that you are taking more black people to jail. Blacks are not liked period in law enforcement," said Shah.

In court papers, Shah recounts one such incident in the summer of 2002 in which he alleges that his sergeant accused him of "never taking blacks to jail" and ordered him to change an incident report from a misdemeanor to a felony for an African American male in his mid-20s. Shah charges in the complaint that when he refused, the sergeant stated, "What's wrong with you? That guy needs to go to jail. You never take black people to jail. Do you think you are black, too? I order you to change the report to a felony, or I will write you up."

The complaint allegations continue, stating that when Shah refused, the sergeant responded with "You're not black. Don't talk black. Don't act black. This black guy needs to go to jail. Stop being afraid of taking blacks to jail. You need to take more black people to jail."

Shah's law enforcement career began when he joined the Compton Police Department in May 1999. According to a former high-ranking official in the Compton Police Department who did not wish to be identified, Shah was "a pretty good kid who fit good into the department, was enthusiastic about his job and sensitive to the community."

"We never had any negative feedback about him. He really wanted to be a police officer. He was just an all around good guy," the official said.

Shah says it was not until the Compton Police Department was disbanded and he, along with other Compton Police officers, was incorporated into the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department that he "started to see racism within the police department."

"When I was working in the county jail from September of 2000 to September of 2001, blacks were terrorized in the jail. A lot of the white deputies were purposely segregating, where you take 10 blacks and put them in a big holding tank with 40 Hispanics. Well naturally they are going to fight, look at the 4-to-1 ratio. A lot of the blacks were purposely going to get hurt and beat up. That's just the way it is," he alleges.

Born in Inglewood, Shah, who says he was raised by a black family, attends a black church and lives in an upscale African American neighborhood, also charged that he witnessed sheriff's deputies, including supervisors, targeting gang members and other African Americans by instigating unwarranted neighborhood lock downs.

"Let's say there are a certain group of gang bangers or blacks that you don't like in a certain area that's really bad. What you do is you drive around and you see who is hanging outside and you take your little duty weapon and you put your gun out the car and you shoot in the air. Then you get on the radio and say shots fired in the area. Now you call in the helicopter, you call in the K-9 and you lock down the whole area and anybody in that area automatically gets detained. So those guys you wanted who were hanging out on the corner, you've got probable cause to detain them," Shah explained.

In his court documents, Shah also accuses the Sheriff's Department of fraudulently billing the U.S. government through the Metropolitan Transit Authority/Homeland Security Contract for "patrol minutes of deputies who are not permitted to work patrol." According to the lawsuit, 16 deputies signed in between 11:03 p.m. and 11:56 p.m. but never responded to a call during their shift from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

He claims in the lawsuit: "these deputies are assigned to other shifts according to the logs, such as the Master Schedule and the Day shift. They are not using the cars and are not on the streets to which they are assigned on those other logs sometimes at overlapping times."

"The Government is being required to pay overtime and/or time and a half to put unassigned deputies in the cars assigned to the deputies for patrol. (The) Los Angeles County Sheriff is billing the United States government through MTA/Homeland for law enforcement services that are not being rendered to the African American communities."

The suit further charges that one patrol car, Car 600, "is a dummy car and there is no one in car 600."

"When it comes to the lawsuits that have been filed, I cannot address that because it is under adjudication but we do look forward to telling the entire story," said Steve Whitmore, spokesperson for Sheriff Lee Baca.

Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the Office of Independent Review, an independent group of lawyers that have been hired by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to oversee the Sheriff's Department, said the allegations are serious and need to be investigated.

"The allegations are significant but right now they are just a complaint. In a complaint you can put anything you want," said Gennaco, adding that he would be personally looking into the allegations.

Royce Esters of the National Association for Equal Justice in America (NAEJA) says his organization will begin monitoring the situation.

"If this is happening it needs to be cleaned up. Blacks shouldn't be railroaded if these allegations are true. NAEJA is very concerned about allegations like this," said Esters.

Eric P. Lee, executive director Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Los Angeles (SCLC-LA), says based on the claims in this suit, there should be a federal investigation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Lee stated: "The black community has always claimed that law enforcement agencies are racist, discriminatory and abusive toward our community. This disproves white society's claim that African Americans are conspiracy theorists when it comes to racism perpetrated by law enforcement agencies.

"It is clear that it is not a theory, but a fact that needs to be investigated and remedied at the highest levels of law enforcement agencies across this country. If federal government does not investigate the sheriff's and Los Angeles Police Department, then it is clear that not much has changed from the Jim Crow era or the days of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."

Shah's attorney, Lola M. McAlpin-Grant, said "Clearly, there is evidence of some misconduct. I certainly hope a lot of people will start asking questions here and maybe at some point down the line this can be corrected."

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

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