6/1/2004 Newsletter

Contents:

  • MPD Cop Beats Iraqi Artist
  • Jenkins Case Goes to Trial
  • Another MPD Attack on Rickey Jones
  • St. Paul Chief's Son Gets Impunity by Extension
  • Chicago Cops Kill Elderly, Disabled Activist
  • Dissent as Capitol Offense: Shoot to Kill Ordered at G8 in Georgia
  • Even "Pretend" Captives Get Abused

MPD COP BEATS IRAQI ARTIST
We received the following information from the Babylon Art Collective. Please support Haider Al-Amery, community member and artist, and stand against this form of racism:
**********************************
On April 27, Iraqi artist Haider was driving home from working on his new mural when he was stopped by the police. The police told him to get out of his car and immediately handcuffed him. They took him back to their squad car and took his ID out his pocket. When they saw his name on the license they asked where he was from and when he responded he was from Iraq one of the police officers punched him in the eye. The officer then slammed his head into the squad car and slammed his elbow into Haider's back. Haider was then placed in the back of the squad car, where he was kept for over one hour before being taken to the emergency room at Hennepin County Medical Center.

This beating is part of a continuing pattern of violence carried out against community members, primarily people of color, at the hands of the Minneapolis police. The night after Haider was beaten, an unarmed man was shot in the leg by Minneapolis cops. The same week as Haider's assualt, the Minneapolis police raided a downtown nightclub and brutalized many of it's patrons.

As the media continues to depict Arabs and Muslims as fundamentalist and terrorists, and Iraqis as particularly savage people who don't have the same human rights as everyone else, attacks like these become more acceptable in the minds of many. I invite you to join us to use this opportunity to speak out against Haider's brutalization at the hands of the Minneapolis police, as well as the conditions in the world that are creating a climate where racial attacks on Arabs and Muslims are more acceptable.

Please join us for a speakout and press conference Thursday, June 3, 4pm, at the 7 Bridges World Market, 400 1st Ave NE in Minneapolis.

We will a be having a follow up meeting for folks who want to get more involved in Haider's defense campaign on Monday, June 7, at 7pm at the Zion Baptist Church, 621 Elwood Ave, at the corner of Olson Hwy and James Street in Minneapolis.

Haider was charged with reckless driving, and has a court date set for June 21. We are trying to raise funds to help pay for Haider's lawyer. To make a donation please mail a check made out to Haider Al-Amery to 3033 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Any donation, large or small would be greatly appreciated.


JENKINS CASE GOES TO TRIAL: BE THERE!
Starting this morning, Philander Jenkins goes on trial for trumped up charges related to a cafe robbery. You may recall that on May 25th, Willie Jenkins, Philander's brother and a key alibi witness (who can show that Philander was not even at the scene of the incident) was attacked and beaten by MPD Officer Hand while walking down the the hallway of his high school. This was, in all likelyhood, a means of trying to "dirty up" witnesses for Philander and a way to send a message to people who stand with him. The state has no evidence tying Philander to this crime but that doesn't stop them from trying to pin it on him, as a way to justify the brutality they have inflicted on him. People are strongly encouraged to observe this trial:

9:00 a.m., starting today
Hennepin County Government Center
Courtroom unknown, please inquire at the court information desk

We will publish reports of the trial and let you know about the trial schedule as soon as possible.


COPS FIND ANOTHER WAY TO ATTACK CAMERAMAN RICKEY JONES
After having their phony police reports and videotape tampering exposed (see 2-5-04 Newsletter), Minneapolis cops seem to have found another way to mess with professional photographer and police brutality survivor, Rickey Jones. Rickey makes his living, in part, by taking momento photographs at night clubs downtown. Lately, one of the cops who beat Rickey has been seen talking to certain club owners and shortly thereafter, Rickey was told that he could no longer work in those clubs. It's bad enough that these cops got away with beating Rickey--it's even more outrageous that these cops are now interfering with his livelyhood.

Interested parties have started threads on the web sites of these clubs in support of Rickey Jones. Please add messages of support at these web sites and/or contact club management to express your concern that they would curtail someone's livelyhood on the word of brutal cops.

Tabu Club & Lounge
323 1st Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1609
(612)204-0790
http://www.twincitiesnightclubs.com/clubs2.asp?CLUBID=34

The Quest
110 N 5th St
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Business Office: 612-338-6169
http://www.thequestclub.com/


IS IT JUST PERCEPTION OR DO THEY ALWAYS SEEM TO GET AWAY WITH IT?
EDITOR'S NOTE: We have long recognized the BCA as an agency literally set up to cover for the cops. Having them conduct an investigation into police conduct is the absolute same as the fox guarding the hen house. Considering that this is the chief's son, an independent prosecutor should have been appointed.

Son of a Chief
What ever became of St. Paul cop Jon Loretz's bar brawl? Nothing.
by Paul Demko
City Pages
Vol 25, Published 5-19-04
www.citypages.com/databank/25/1224/article12121.asp

Around 1:00 a.m. on October 19, St. Paul police officer Jon Loretz was involved in a brawl at Lucy's Saloon, a bar in the Frogtown neighborhood that caters to a largely lesbian clientele. Several patrons of the establishment claimed that the 6'5", 250-pound off-duty sergeant had yelled homophobic slurs, brandished a gun, and cracked one person over the head with a beer bottle.

The incident initially drew intense media scrutiny not only for the salacious details of the brawl, but because of Loretz's background: He's the son of outgoing Police Chief William Finney. Because of the conflict, the criminal probe was turned over to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). But even this did not stem concerns that Loretz would get favorable treatment since Finney's wife, Linda (who is not related to Loretz), is the acting superintendent of the BCA. Within days of the beginning of the probe, Lucy's owner Areanna Coale was accusing investigators of asking leading questions and calling for the inquiry be turned over to the state attorney general's office.

The BCA probe was completed in late December. The results were turned over to the Olmsted County Attorney's Office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Loretz. But after five months of waiting, there's still been no decision. The inaction has left everyone involved in the case--city officials, bar patrons, people in the gay and lesbian community--flummoxed and frustrated.

"It just seems as if it's gone into a black hole," says Phil Duran, legal and policy analyst at OutFront Minnesota, a gay and lesbian advocacy group that has been tracking the case. "This is not securities and exchange litigation. It's a bar brawl. How tough can it be?"

Bar owner Coale, also an assistant Ramsey County public defender, likewise has become exasperated by the delay. "There's such a thing as reasonable, and as far as I'm concerned this investigation and what has occurred has not been reasonable," she notes.

Even BCA officials express bewilderment at what has become of the investigation. "If you could find out, we'd be interested to know," says spokesman Kevin Smith.

The Olmsted County Attorney's Office is mum on when a conclusion might be reached. Jim Martinson, head of the office's criminal division, would say only this: "It's under investigation. No decision has been made."

As the investigation has dragged on, Loretz has remained on the job (although he is prohibited from working in uniform and from taking off-duty jobs). Shortly after the brawl at Lucy's, he was providing public tours of the police department's new headquarters northeast of downtown. Then in February, Loretz decamped to Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the Southern Police Institute, a prestigious law-enforcement training academy to which St. Paul sends just one officer each year. The 13-week, $7,500 program was paid for with taxpayer dollars.

This has led to considerable grumbling among rank-and-file cops--although few are willing to go public with their complaints. "My feeling is, if you're under investigation you shouldn't be able to attend those institutions," says Frank Foster, a retired St. Paul cop. "I think a lot of people feel that Jon was rewarded for his situation."

City officials and Loretz's attorney point out that Loretz was selected by a panel of Southern Police Institute graduates to attend the academy long before the incident at Lucy's. They say it would have been inappropriate to punish him prior to the conclusion of the investigation. "It would be a shame for someone who had been waiting for years to go to this prestigious school to have that taken away from him just because someone makes an accusation," argues Loretz's lawyer, Kevin Short.

But Loretz's treatment contrasts sharply with that of another St. Paul officer who allegedly ran afoul of department policies recently. Cornelius Benner IV was at Arnellia's Bar on February 20 when a Cameroonian immigrant named Stephen Kuma was shot to death. Rather than assist at the scene, Benner took off. Finney immediately criticized the cop in the media, and subsequently decided to terminate his employment. After Benner filed a grievance through the St. Paul Police Federation, he was reinstated.

Interestingly, the Benner and Finney clans have deep ties. Cornelius Benner's dad, Cornelius "Butch" Benner, is a retired St. Paul cop and was Finney's partner when they came on the force back in the 1970s. For unknown reasons, the two subsequently had an acrimonious falling-out. This has led to speculation that Finney's handling of the Arnellia's situation was colored by the past. "A lot of people feel like Neil got a raw deal," says Foster, who was on the force with the elder Benner and Finney.

Others, however, don't believe Finney would allow such petty personal differences to affect his judgment. "I just don't think that Finney is that shallow," says Art Blakey, a retired Ramsey County Sheriff's Department officer who's known both families for years.

(Butch Benner declined to comment for this story. Finney also declined to speak, citing the ongoing investigation.)

Even so, the long delay in the Loretz investigation has sparked all manner of speculation. "There's not a day that goes by that someone doesn't say to me, 'Whatever happened with that Jon Loretz case?'" says Coale. "'Are they just going to let him walk on this?'"


CHICAGO COPS KILL ELDERLY, DISABLED ACTIVIST
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Forwarded from Chicago Volunteers for International ANSWER:

In one of the most horrible and cold-blooded police murders of a protest leader in the recent history of the US, May Molina Ortiz was killed by the Chicago Police on Wednesday, May 26.

They did not gun her down. That would have been too fast, too merciful. They shut this disabled grandmother, who was unable to move without her wheelchair, and who suffered from diabetes, asthma, and other health problems, up in a cell. When her family tried to bring her the medicines that preserved her life, the police refused. When her lawyer warned them that she was comatose and needed immediate hospitalization, they refused. Over a 31-hour period they watched her life leave her body. She died in her cell at the Belmont and Western lockup.

May Molina Ortiz was a well-known leader in the Chicago movement against police brutality and abuse. She got involved in the group Comité Exigimos Justicia (We Demand Justice) while trying to free her son from a frame-up charge. Last Friday, she got a major law firm to take her son's case - a great victory. On Sunday, she was on the phone with other activists planning activities for the month of June. On Monday night, police dragged her off - literally, since they did not allow her wheelchair - and threw her in a cell. She would never know freedom again. She died at the hands of police officers who knew her name, who knew exactly who she was, against whom she had protested on countless occasions.

Last night, over 100 people came to an emergency vigil at Belmont and Western where she died. Family members of all ages wept openly. Her friends cried as they remembered a woman with a heart of gold, a woman who was always ready to feed the hungry and the homeless, who would always show up at protests even in bad weather when many others stayed away. People were outraged that she had died under torture, in effect, just like (as several people said) some of the victims at Abu Ghraib. People vowed to make her name a banner of the struggle.

In the history of police torture and murder in Chicago, this case has a special place. It was not only an act of racism and brutality, it was an act of state terror directed against the movement. They killed an activist. They killed a mother whose crime was to try to free her son, and all the other daughters and sons who are wrongfully abused and imprisoned. We must take up the struggle.

EDITOR'S NOTE: May Molino was found dead in a jail cell with undigested packets of heroin jammed in her esophagus. Police claim they arrested her in a drug raid and that she tried to swallow the evidence. However, to quote from a Chicago IMC report: "A source in the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said today that preliminary results of Molina's autopsy said she had six packets of heroin in her esophagus and stomach. Rather than supporting police suggestions that she was a "drug fiend," this suggests that the drugs were stuffed in her well AFTER she was in police custody, and that police responsibility for her death is far more severe than mere medical neglect. Any foreign object in the esophagus is either involuntarily swallowed or expelled within minutes. If Molina truly was trying to "swallow the evidence" at the time of the raid, there is no way "the evidence" would have remained in her esophagus for the 28-1/2 hours she was in custody before she died. The only conclusion that one can reach is that this was murder."


WHEN DID DISSENT BECOME A CAPITOL OFFENSE?
SHOOT TO KILL ORDERED AT G8 IN GEORGIA
Thursday May 27, 2004
http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2004/05/1694868.php

Pacifica News and the AP have both stated in the last two days that there is potential for the use of Lethal Force at the G8, DNC, and RNC this summer.

On May, 25 2004 Pacifica News reported on their daily news broadcast about the current orders being given to the police that will be responding to the G8 conference in Georgia this year. According to the broadcast, the governor of Georgia (as of May 25th), was going through the motions of declaring a "state of emergency" during the G8 protest. This so called "state of emergency" would allow the police in the entire state to break up, any and all "gatherings of people" to protest any event. However, the suspension of the first amendment is not the only card up this governor's sleeve.

In correlation with this "state of emergency" the commander of the police forces has ordered a: "SHOOT TO KILL" order, that will pertain to all individuals that the police themselves feel are "threatening" the lives of "world leaders" that will be gathering for the event. This order will only go into effect if the governor is capable of issuing a state of emergency.

According to the Associated Press On May 25th John Ashcroft made a press release to the public about potential terrorist attacks that will be carried out this summer. Ashcroft stated that this threat is highly probable, and that there is a grave danger of our nation being struck this summer. During this press release he stated that there were three high priority targets that would be considered major threats. These targets were: THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION, THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, and THE G8 CONFERENCE. The point of this is not to debate whether or not Al Qaida will strike these targets, but rather is to look at this announcement in terms of what it means to the activist community. By announcing that the G8 conference is an Al Qaida target, Ashcroft increased the chances for the governor of Georgia to approve imposing a state of emergency during the conference. This would then result in the "shoot to kill" order being instated while the meeting is taking place.

This is something we all need to be aware of. The powers of oppression have used the War [of] Terror to raise the stakes yet again. They are authorizing the use of lethal force against any, and all threats that "THEY" deem appropriate. This is scary, especially after watching the pepper spraying of children, and the non-lethal application of force on the elderly and disabled, that has happened in the past year all over the U.S. Be prepared!!!


EVEN "PRETEND" CAPTIVES GET ABUSED
Soldier Nearly Beaten To Death During Training Exercise Playing Role Of Prisoner; "I Feel Betrayed"
May 24, 2004
Associated Press

In an exclusive interview with AP's Leigh Searcy, a central Kentucky soldier says he was told to pose as the enemy for a training exercise at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in January 2003 - and it nearly cost him his life.

Sean Baker was a member of the Kentucky National Guard from 1989 to 1997. During that time, he served in the Gulf War. In the late 90's, he got out of the Guard, but re-enlisted after September 11th.

In January 2003, Baker was a member of the 438th Military Police company in Operation Enduring Freedom at Guantanamo Bay, where he says he was "given a direct order by an officer in the U.S. Army" to play the role of a detainee for a training exercise.

"I was on duty as an MP in an internal camp where the detainees were housed," said Baker.

Baker said that he was ordered to put on one of the orange jumpsuits worn by the detainees. "At first I was reluctant, but he said 'you'll be fine...put this on.' And I did," said Baker.

Baker says what took place next happened at the hands of four U.S. soldiers - soldiers he believes didn't know he was one of them - has changed his life forever.

"They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and unfortunately one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down," said Baker. "Then he - the same individual - reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't breath. When I couldn't breath, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was 'red.'"

But, Baker says, the beating didn't stop. "That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me," he said. "Somehow I got enough air, I muttered out, 'I'm a U.S. soldier, I'm a U.S. soldier.'"

Baker says it wasn't until one of the soldiers noticed what Baker was wearing did the exercise stop. "He saw that I had BDU's and boots on."

Nearly 15 months after that day, and countless medical treatments at Walter Reed Hospital, Baker is now medically retired from the military, but still suffers.

"I sustained an injury to my brain, a traumatic brain injury which has caused me to have a seizure disorder I deal with daily," said Baker.

Baker's traumatic brain injury is outlined in a military document in his possession, which says the injury "was due to soldier playing role as a detainee who was uncooperative."

In light of recent revelations of prisoner abuse in Iraq, Baker felt the need to come forward with his story.

"I feel like I've been betrayed by my own troops because I would never have done to any detainee what had been transpired in my life, what happened to me," said Baker. "I don't want this to happen to anyone else, what I'm living with daily."

The Kentucky National Guard confirmed Baker was a member of the 438th Military Police company, but would not comment on the investigation of the incident other than to say it was a "tragic, tragic accident." "There was a training accident, after which he was medically discharged." Lt. Cmdr. Chris Loundermon at Southern Command also confirmed that Baker had a medical discharge from the guard, but had no further comment.


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


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