7/6/2005 Newsletter


  • Night Watch Season
  • Salute to Local Defenders of Freedom Event
  • MPD vs Park Police
  • More on Terrell's Terrible Attack on Youth
  • Breaching the Blue Wall of Silence

Now that the weather is warm and the nights are long, CUAPB has restarted our Night Watch program--an effective combination of rally, know your rights training and cop watch.  During Night Watch events, teams move through downtown Minneapolis with large signs calling for an end to police brutality, get out thousands of "Your Rights as a Downtown Patron" flyers and at club closing time we focus on and document police activities toward people leaving the clubs.  Night Watch program sprang from numerous complaints we received about police treatment of people downtown, especially people of color.  One report we heard frequently was that police were indiscriminantly using pepper spray on large numbers of folks as they attempted to leave the clubs without any regard to individual behavior.  This was creating chaos at closing time and subjecting people to even more acts of brutality.  We were also getting reports of club bouncers--cop wannabees or off-duty cops--shoving people down the sidewalk far from their club entrances, something they have no right to do.  Night Watch actions teach people about their rights while our presence helps to reduce police brutality.

Join us for our next outing.  Bring a pad of paper and pen.  If you have them, bring a still camera or video camera.
Night Watch
Saturday, July 9th
10:00 p.m.
Corner 1st Ave & 5th St
Once we assemble, we'll be moving around downtown.  If you come after 10:00 p.m., call our hotline at 612-874-7867 to locate us.

The Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild will host the annual Salute to Local Defenders of Freedom wingding on Saturday, July 16th from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Minnehaha Park bandstand.  This event, a picnic with music and dancing, proves that lefties know how to have fun while recognizing good work done throughout the year and those who are doing it.
The NLG is providing picnic basics but folks are encouraged to bring a potluck item (enough to feed a lot of hungry folks, please).  Groups and individuals are also encouraged to contribute a song, poem or other performance piece.  If you're interested in performing or want more information, contact Peter Brown at [email protected]

The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Salute to Local Defenders of Freedom
Saturday, July 16, 2005
4PM - 9PM
Minnehaha Park Bandstand
4801 Minnehaha Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN

In our last newsletter, we recounted an incident we witnessed at Juneteenth in which police officers went racing through Theo Wirth park, knocking down folks, in response to a brief fight between two teenage girls.

Since then, we got emails from members of the Minneapolis police department wanting to point out that it was the Park Police who bullied their way through the park.  One gentleman was kind enough to point out that "they have the same uniform, but different chief, governing board, and even pay string...a completely separate PD."

Thanks for the clarification, folks, and sorry for the error but given the following facts, the error seems understandable:
*They do wear the same uniforms as MPD
*They attend the same Minneapolis Police Academy for training and  go through the same Field Training Officer Program (FTO)
*Park police DO have a separate chief but do not appear to have a separate Internal Affairs department (that we've been able to find)--and from what we've seen they could use one
*They receive the SAME radio calls as MPD, and can elect, themselves (without being dispatched) to respond to any MPD call

I'm sure all of us would like a little more clarity on the differences, if any, between MPD and Park Police.  And, more to the point, if they're so different, why DO they wear the same uniform?

**Note and correction: In the last newsletter, we published an article on the connections between a highly objectionable open letter by Tyrone Terrell and a report by a General Mills-paid consultant that forms the racist basis for the STOP program and other attacks by MPD on youth of color.  In that article we referred to the consultant as David Wexler.  His real name is Chuck Wexler.  We regret the error.

Local writer Lydia Howell wrote an important correspondence in response to Terrell's letter.  With her permission, we share an excerpt below:

Ignoring the newest attempt to create 'enhanced' penalties for 'gang members' (similar to the disparity between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine) is to ignore one of the most insidious and damaging manifestations of racism/white supremacy currently operating in the US.  Anyone committed to justice should be deeply alarmed by this extension of the PATRIOT Act to attach the label 'terrorist' to people in gangs. I was especially disturbed by Terrill's comparison of gangs to ACTUAL TERRORIST white supremacist groups like the KKK---because the US government has NEVER even come close to fully prosecuting such groups, which are on the rise again in the US.

Youth of color joining gangs is enormously COMPLICATED, with plenty of responsibility to go around. I am not saying that there's no responsibility for parents and communities of color themselves to play in addressing this. To assert that 'dominant society forces' ALONE are responsible is to, I think, take a condescending attitude towards people of color themselves. At the same time, ripping people out of daily context is to make each of us atomized individuals, which simply serves as 'cover' for dominant economic/racist elites to bear no responsibility at all for the social costs of policies they've created.

After the stray bullet murder of Tyisha Williams in the Phillips' neighborhood, this issue came close to home to me. That a studious 11 year old girl could be killed, sitting at her dining room table doing homework on an afternoon, absolutely horrified me. Those responsible HAD to be accountable for her murder.

But, the perpetrators of that crime were in a sense 'secondary victims' as well as perpetrators. Aged 15 to 20 years old (all but one, under 18), I had to ponder that none of these young men saw any future for themselves apart from being in a gang. That such hopelessness overwhelms people at so young an age should alarm all of us, not only in communities of color--but the white community, too. That level of despair is an INDICTMENT not simply of those youth's destructive decisions and their parents' mistakes and/or failures but should be a mirror to the dominant culture that raises many questions---which Terrill's 'letter' blithely alludes to without any depth.

This reply would go on too long if I named all those 'questions' but I have to note at least one:
Q: How do "criminal justice" officials decide how many future prison cells to build?
A: A MN sociologist found that two sets of numbers are looked at to predict the number of future cells to be built: how many children fail 3rd grade reading tests and how many children are in foster care.

When I discovered this fact last fall, it chilled me to the core.  As a society we are writing off certain children--primarily children of color.  And then when our total indifference to them comes back to haunt us, those same children, grown taller and older, are held to total accountability for their actions. Where is the accountability for a society that labeled them disposable long before they ever joined a gang?

Lydia Howell, MInneapolis

Norm Stamper, former chief of the Seattle police department during the "battle in Seattle" WTO protests, has written a fascinating tell-all book entitled Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing.  Filled with illuminating chapters such as "Why White Cops Kill Black Men" and "Doughnuts, Tacos and Fat Cops," this book is a must read for anyone interested in accountability and the current state of policing in this country.  We will feature a full length book review in a future edition of this newsletter.  In the meantime, suffice it to say that Stamper has reported getting quite a bit of cold shoulder from others in his field.  The article below gives yet another example of what can happen when a cop speaks out against criminal conduct by others on the force and why transparency and accountability are so difficult for police agencies.

Highest-Ranking Woman Fired from Pennsylvania Police
Feminist Daily News
Wednesday 29 June 2005

Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Transue, deputy commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, was escorted out of her office last Friday. Transue was the highest ranking woman official in the agency, and the first woman to act as deputy commissioner. She gave up her badge, gun and ID card, and her picture has been removed from stations statewide, reports the Associated Press. State police officials have declined to comment on her employment status, but Major Robert Einsel has been appointed as her temporary replacement.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Transue filed a complaint last year, in which she accused the agency's disciplinary officer, Captain Barry Titler, of perjury. Many suspect that Transue's subsequent investigation and removal came as reprisal for reporting Titler. Penny Harrington, founder and board member of the National Center for Women and Policing, told the Philadelphia Daily News that "Because she did break the code of silence and reported inappropriate behavior, there's a high likelihood she was targeted."

President of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, Bruce Edwards, told the Philadelphia Daily News he had "gotten a lot of calls already from women on this job. They are not happy and they want some questions answered."

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3104 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

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