5/23/2003 Newsletter


  • Know Your Rights Training
  • Why CUAPB Opted Out of Mediation
  • Teacher Calls Secret Service in on Students Over Bush Remarks

Workshop on how not to be victimized by police brutality
Saturday, May 24
2:00 p.m.
IATP Building
2104 Stevens Avenue
Community meeting and training session on how to protect your rights and survive an encounter with police. Topics include:
· Knowing Your Rights
· What to Say (and What Not to Say) to a Police Officer
· Dealing with Traffic Stops
· Your Rights Regarding Searches
· Your Rights Regarding ID Cards
· What to Do (and Not Do) if Arrested
This training will be presented jointly by CUAPB and the National Lawyers Guild--MN Chapter and is cosponsored by Community Collaborative and Anti-Racist Action. We'll also be presenting information on what to do if you are brutalized by police and about our class action lawsuit. Be there!

You've probably seen the news reports spouting how miraculous it is that federal mediation is "on" again. What you haven't seen is an accounting of the backroom deals that took place to put this together and, as a result, why it will only be window dressing.

From the start, it has been essential the community pick its own team. This principle is even part of the Department of Justice protocols for mediation. That's why we held an open, well-advertised meeting back in November 2002. People came and voted on who they wanted to represent various parts of the community. The city, however, could not stomach negotiating with an "unpredictable" group of citizens, with no ability to control the outcome of the mediation. That's why they had Olson cook up his various delay tactics and why they backed him when he continued to stall.

Since the last city council hearing on mediation, certain individuals have been busy cutting deals to set up a team of folks who are financially and otherwise closely tied to the city. (Check their addresses--most of them have offices in buildings owned at least in part by the city, and a good number of them get city money to run their programs.) At one point, these self-appointed "community leaders" met with us and admitted they did not know about the issues and demands of the community. They offered us a deal, if you can call it that--we do all the work and they get to sit back and take the credit. After all, one of them told us, he doesn't want to have to attend all those boring meetings. Apparently, the perception of doing something is good enough for some of these "leaders." For obvious reasons, we walked on that "deal."

A fair amount of the rottenness that has attended the city selecting the community team has hinged on a nasty sexism--women can only be part of the process if they are willing to do the work for the group and stay in the background but they can't speak unless spoken to and they can't take an active role in the mediation itself. This, after it was primarily four strong women who brought mediation here in the first place. This mentality is heavily reflected on the current, city-selected "community" team, which includes no women actually at the table on the community side. Interestingly, there are also no Somalis on the "community" team.

The first mediation session happened yesterday, amid a swarm of blue-uniformed cops with guns strutting around, passing out sign up sheets, etc. The room was packed with cops and the atmosphere was chilling. Apparently, cops were running the show. They selected the dates, times and locations of future meetings with little input from the so-called community side. The "community" representatives were required to provide names, contact information, etc. to the city side but the city side would not even identify who will be on their team. Already it is clear where the balance of power will be in this process.

A number of community members who had read about the meeting in the paper came, either to satisfy their curiosity, to have input, or to tell their story about being abused by police. No room was given for input from these authentic community members. At one point, anyone who had not specifically been invited to be at the meeting was summarily thrown out and the doors locked behind them, with disenfranchised community members voicing their frustrations as they filed out.

Based on the growing number of complaints we get, police brutality is at an all-time high in Minneapolis and it seems to be getting worse. The aftermath of 9/11, the Patriot act and other measures have given free reign to brutal police to act with impunity. The community is desperate for relief. For this reason, it is our sincere hope that some good comes from this mediation. But with the city selecting both teams and, essentially, mediating with itself we have our doubts. It's hard to see how good results can come from a tainted process. That's why we are moving forward with our patterns and practices complaint and our class action lawsuit.

This lawsuit is essential for bringing about the kinds of changes necessary to actually stop police brutality. This is the community's lawsuit and there is a great deal of work to be done: collecting statements from community members, adding the information into a database, setting up community meetings, raising funds for the legal expenses, etc. If you would like to help us with these efforts or if you are interested in being included one of the classes in the suit, call our hotline at 612-874-STOP.

Secret Service Questions Students
Posted: May 7, 2003 at 6:18 p.m.

OAKLAND (KRON) -- Some teachers in Oakland are rallying behind two students who were interrogated by the Secret Service. That followed remarks the teenagers made about the President during a class discussion. The incident has many people angry.

For years the classroom has been the setting for the free expression of ideas, but two weeks ago certain ideas led to two students being taken out of class and grilled by the United States Secret Service.

It happened at Oakland High. The discussion was about the war in Iraq. That's when two students made comments about the President of the United States. While the exact wording is up for debate, the teacher didn't consider it mere criticism, but a direct threat and she called the Secret Service.

Teacher Cassie Lopez says, "They were so shaken up and afraid." Now, other teachers are coming to the aid of the two students and crying foul. "I would start with the teacher, she made a poor judgement," Lopez says. Teacher Larry Felson says, "What we're concerned about is academic freedom and that students have the right to free expression in the classroom."

Even worse, they say, is the fact that the students were grilled by federal agents without legal counsel or their parents present, just the principal. "When one of the students asked, 'do we have to talk now? Can we be silent? Can we get legal council?' they were told, 'we own you, you don't have any legal rights,'" Felson says.

"We don't want federal agents or police coming in our schools and interrogating our children at the whim of someone who has a hunch something might be wrong," Lopez says.

The union representing Oakland teachers requires that students be afforded legal counsel and parental guidance before they're interrogated by authorities. It's too late for the two involved in this incident, and teachers say it's something they'll carry with them for years.

"I tell you the looks on those childrens faces. I don't know if they'll say anything about anything ever again. Is that what we want? I don't think we want that," says Lopez.
(Copyright 2003, KRON 4. All rights reserved.)

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

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