6/2/2007 Newsletter


  • Survivor, Family and Friends Dinner
  • Resisting the RNC: Minnesota Town Hall Organizing Meeting
  • Juneteenth Festival
  • Junk for Justice
  • Summer Copwatch Kickoff
  • Criminalizing Poverty: Public Hearing on the Panhandling Ordinance
  • Granny Busts Out Members of the "Justice" System



Saturday, June 9th, 5:30 p.m.
Walker Church
3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

Transportation and Child Care Available (call 612-874-7867)
Survivors of police brutality, family members and all of our friends who oppose police brutality and support police accountability are invited to an evening of dining and socializing.  You will be treated to a sumptuous feast prepared by one of our volunteers, a top-notch chef.  This event will be informal and children are more than welcome.

This event is free.  No donations will be solicited.  This is just a chance for people dealing with the effects of police brutality to meet and get to know each other in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.  During past events, people who met ended up supporting each other in court and helping other survivors get justice.  Just knowing that others are dealing with what you experienced can be beneficial.  Join us for good food and good fellowship.
RESISTING THE RNC: Minnesota Town Hall Organizing Meeting
Saturday, June 9th, 2pm
St. Paul Trades and Labor Hall
411 Main Street, St. Paul

EDITOR'S NOTE: You could make a day of it by going to this event and then to the Survivor, Family and Friends Dinner.  CUAPB supports this effort to take on the RNC and we plan to provide CopWatch and other assistance during these efforts.

The Republican National Convention is coming to our backyard. Feeling angry? Want to do something?

Please join us for a gathering of those who have already started organizing to resist the RNC in 2008 and those looking for a place to start. This will be a space for people to come together and share ideas and energy.

The afternoon will be broken into three parts. We'll start with a "clearinghouse" where organizations can table and have an opportunity to chat with attendees one-on-one. This will be followed by a facilitated "open mic" discussion period. Discussion will start with explanations about what is already underway, and continue with attendees sharing their hopes, dreams, and visions with each other. The day will conclude with "break out" sessions where participants gather around specific topics of interest and decide on "next steps."

Let's meet each other, get to know each other, and start to work together!

Child Care and Snacks Provided.

Co-hosted by: Protest RNC 2008 and the RNC "Welcoming" Committee
Saturday, June 16th, 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Theo Wirth Park
Glenwood Avenue (between Xerxes and Theo Wirth Parkway)
Free Parking on Hwy 55 at Theo Wirth Parkway with shuttle buses to the event

Join us at our booth at the Juneteenth Festival.  We have an education booth every year at Juneteenth and this is one of our most successful outreaches all year.  As always, we will put together quite a display to educate and motivate the community to action.

We would love help staffing our booth.  More volunteers means everyone works shorter shifts and people are able to take breaks throughout the long day.  Help is especially needed during set up and tear down.  Access to a van or other large vehicle is especially needed.  If you can help, please call our hotline at 612-874-7867.

Because we will be staffing our booth that day, there will be no regular CUAPB meeting on Saturday, June 16th.

Saturday, June 23rd
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (bag sale starting a 4:00 p.m.)
Walker Church
3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
**get rid of things you no longer need**
**pick up wild bargains**
TURN YOUR JUNK INTO JUSTICE!  Just about everyone has stuff in their house that they no longer need but that others would value.  Bring your garage sale items to CUAPB for our annual rummage sale.  Believe it or not, this is one of our biggest fund raisers for the year.  The funds we earn help to keep the hotline going and fund work like our lawsuits for accountability and justice.

You can bring your garage sale items to the Walker Church on Saturday, June 9th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., bring them on the day of the garage sale (starting 9:00 a.m.) or call us at 612-874-7867 to make other arrangements, including pick up of larger items.
Saturday, June 30
Training: 11:00 p.m., Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
CopWatch: 12:00 midnight

Stepped-up police presence on the streets is leading to more incidents of police brutality and misconduct against people of color, homeless people and others.  Just two weeks ago, we told you about a major cop riot at a club in downtown Minneapolis.  Now's the time to kick off our 2007 season of CopWatch. 

CopWatch is a program of police accountability in which we observe police conduct and document any incidents using video cameras, still photography and paper and pen.  Along the way, we distribute Know Your Rights flyers and educate the public.  THIS ACTIVITY IS COMPLETELY LEGAL and we'll train you to do it safely.  PLEASE NOTE: If you have not attended a previous CopWatch, you must attend the training before going out with us.

Join us for our first summer session of CopWatch. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes--you'll be on your feet a while.  If you have questions, call 612-874-7867.

Public Hearing on the Panhandling Ordinance

Wednesday, June 6, 1:00 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall
350 S Fifth Street, Room 317, downtown Minneapolis

Minneapolis public officials don't ever seem to have time or money to get serious about ending homelessness in the city.  However, they've got plenty of energy for coming up with new ordinances that feed off the worst stereotypes of poor people.  This time it's the "deranged" panhandler who terrorizes all the nice white folks as they sup at the outdoor cafes of the warehouse district.  What a crock!  Poor people who are forced to beg for individual charity to survive (and to cover the gap left by private charities and a lack of city dollars) should not be criminalized.  After all, how many of these city officials would willingly allow themselves to starve to death?  That previously progressive council member Ralph Remington would be part of this is truly disheartening.

We encourage you to attend this public hearing and speak out against yet another ordinance that will be used by the boys in blue to selectively harass, arrest and prosecute poor people.  Local journalist extraordinaire Lydia Howell wrote about these shameful efforts by our city council in Moving Mountains, her daily Pulse blog. 

Panhandlers As Public Enemies
by Lydia Howell
Monday, June 4, 2007

When you don't drive a car, live hovering around (or under) the poverty line and you walk the inner city neighborhood you live in, having a stranger ask for a dollar happens all the time.  I've never seen panhandlers as offensive or as a threat.  But well-off people--including elected officials--have a very different reaction and they regularly tell the same sort of story over and over.

Minneapolis City Council member Ralph Remington, whose ward includes the wealthy Uptown neighborhood, told the Star Tribune (5/27/07) about being at a downtown sidewalk cafe with fellow Council member Sandy Colvin-Roy (who's never been known for having much empathy for the poor) and State Senator Linda Higgins.  A panhandler approached. When Remington "politely declined" to give the fellow African-American man a dollar, he says the man "went into a profanity-laced tirade" and Remington "wanted to rip [the panhandler's] head off."

Just once, in decades, has someone asking me for money behaved in anything remotely approaching the kind of "aggressive attitude" that middle-class and well-off people always describe. Keeping eye contact with the man and speaking respectfully, the guy quickly not only stopped shouting but apologized to me.

Remington told the Strib, "That's when I knew the situation was dire."

He wasn't referring to the situation of homelessness continuing to rise, as cheaper older housing stock is gentrified or torn down to build condos.  He wasn't referring to the 46% unemployment rate of African-American men, reported recently by NY Times columnist Bob Herbert. What Remington, along with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, is so concerned about is panhandling.

Rybak urged people to not give money to beggars but, instead, donate to organizations that serve the homeless. I guess that's his solution to the government budget cuts to social services for the poorest,  mentally ill, battered women and children, chemical-dependency treatment--those who likely to end up homeless.

The government has never come close to addressing homelessness, since these aren't people who have economic power. Have you noticed all the fancy fencing that's gone up on Franklin Avenue and East Lake Street? Yet shelters for homeless people and battered women turn people away nightly, due to lack of enough beds. The city's last gesture to the homeless was the "bum-be-gone" bars underneath freeway overpasses, to make it impossible for homeless people to get out of the rain.  (July 16, 2003 City Pages story http://www.citypages.com/databank/24/1180/article11385.asp ).

The Mayor told the Star Tribune that there's going to be a "lower tolerance" for panhandlers, advising people who feel "intimidated" when a poor person asks for money to call 911, which he says he does all the time.

Basic decency would reject calling the police on a panhandler--especially given that homeless people  (about one-third of whom are mentally-ill) are one of the groups most vulnerable to police brutality. Cops harass, beat, arrest, often taking the ID and possessions of homeless people who are the least able to access the slightest bit of accountability or support after the abuse.

Tougher bans on panhandling are being proposed; it would be a crime to ask someone for money within ten feet of a crosswalk, convenience and liquor stores, or within 50 feet of entrances and exits to parks and sporting arenas.  It's already a crime when (starting at 4am to beat the sanitation workers' pickup), shopping-cart people gather aluminum cans to sell. The most desperately poor people are being further criminalized and conflated with recent downtown robberies and violence. Yet, homeless people are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators of it--but not considered victims worthy of protection--from either the elements or violence.

Let's be clear that for the Minneapolis mayor and city council, it's not just asking for money that bothers them so much. What determines their response is WHO does the asking.

During his first campaign, Rybak made NOT giving any public money for a new Twins' stadium one of his three main issues (along with "affordable" housing and police brutality). But he's gone along with helping to hand over half a billion dollars to Carl Pohlad, who is #77 on the Fortune 400 Richest Americans. He and the City Council continue to have no problem subsidizing private developers building condominiums, priced for sale at $140 to almost $1M, for a handsome profit. Public money goes to these developers under the cloak of building "affordable housing"--which is calculated based on $65,000, the median income for the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. To qualify for the subsidy, a couple of units in these developments are set aside as "affordable housing" for those making 50% of the median. People making $32,500 a year are not standing in line hoping the shelter lottery will get them a mat on the floor tonight.

Police budgets are also up. More cops are highly visible downtown and more Tasers are on order.  Who will they go after?  The homeless sketch artist and street musicians? The young men and women who've come from somewhere else hoping to find a job here? The worn-out middle-aged white woman who I see at the light rail end of the line stop?

When wealthy people panhandle politicians Ralph Remington, along with his elected colleagues, has no problem giving far more than a miserly dollar.

There will be a public hearing about the proposed panhandling ordinance on Wednesday, June 6, 1pm at City Hall, Room 317, 350 south 5th Street, downtown Minneapolis. For more information about the ordinance see http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/news/20070531PanhandlingPublicHearing.asp

[We just can't resist sharing this joke sent to us by a reader.  If only we had a southern grandma who could tell it like it is to the Hennepin County bench!--Editor]

Lawyers should never ask a southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer. In a trial, a southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness--a grandmotherly, elderly woman--to the stand.

He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney almost died. The judge told both counselors to approach the bench and in a very quiet voice said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you BOTH to the electric chair!"

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

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