- CUAPB Meetings Move to New Space
- Club Closing Copwatch Kickoff
- Fun Day Fundraiser a Great Success--Thanks!
- Authorities Beef Up Patrols During Bar Closing Time in Downtown Mpls
- Baltimore Woman, 90, Locks Police Officer in Basement, Wins $95,000 Settlement
MEETINGS MOVE TO NEW SPACE
Starting with our meeting tomorrow, we will start having our regular weekly meeting at our NEW SPACE (hooray!). It will be so great to be able to settle into one space and not be moving from library to library.
CUAPB Weekly Meetings
Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
4200 Cedar Ave S
We have many projects that need to get back on track after the Walker fire. In addition, we're hosting the national meeting of the October 22 Coalition the weekend of July 20-22 and could really use your help getting ready. Please attend our meetings and get involved.
IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN: CLUB CLOSING COPWATCH
With the summer in full swing and police already acting out at club closing time in downtown Minneapolis (see below), it's time to kick off the summer copwatch season. Join us for training, then copwatching with activists from around the country as part of the national October 22 Coalition meeting.
Club Closing Copwatch Kickoff
Friday, July 20th
4200 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis
9:00 p.m. Training
10:00 p.m. Copwatching
Bring a camera or pen and paper and a water bottle. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. If you have questions, please call our hotline at 612-874-7867.
FUN DAY FUNDRAISER A GREAT SUCCESS
Last weekend's Fun Day Fundraiser was a smashing success. Thanks to everyone who turned out. It was so nice to see old friends and new--it felt like a real renewal of energy and spirit.
Despite the hot weather, things were cool and comfortable under our pavilion. Folks gobbled up tons of delicious food, including grilled marinated chicken that everyone agreed was the best they ever had, courtesy of our wonderful friends with Asamblea de Derechos Civiles.
A good amount of funds were raised toward setting up our new office and we are very grateful for all who contributed. If you weren't able to attend but would still like to help, checks can be sent to PO Box 7535, Minneapolis, MN 55407 or donate through Paypal at https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FPN6B2NQFN4GW
Thanks so much for supporting us and helping get us back on our feet. We are 100% committed to empowering the community and ending police brutality but we can only do what we do with your support.
AUTHORITIES BEEF UP PATROLS DURING BAR CLOSING TIME IN DOWNTON MPLS
EDITOR'S NOTE: We understand the need to control crime in downtown Minneapolis but having spent many hours watching out-of-control cops brutalizing people as they try to peacefully walk to their cars--especially around clubs that cater to people of color--we also recognize this attempt to hype up the situation and justify more cop overtime. Much of the chaos comes from the cops themselves, creating panic as they shove people, run them down with horses and assault them with pepper spray. We'll be out there, documenting police conduct and protecting people's rights.
Business wants chaos in downtown Minneapolis to end
June 29, 2012 - 11:02 PM
The shots that rang out as bars closed early Monday this week sent Minneapolis officials scrambling to stem the violence that often springs out of chaotic bar closings. For local business owners, who've changed hours and even moved locations in reaction to the late-night violence, a solution couldn't come soon enough.
Three innocent bystanders were hospitalized and two men were arrested in the shooting near the Gay 90's nightclub at about 2 a.m. Monday. It fit into what has become a predictable pattern of violence at closing time along the First Avenue entertainment corridor, particularly after 2 a.m. on weekends.
"I have never seen or heard the city in such an uproar as I have this last week ... over the incident that happened on Sunday," said Tim Mahoney, owner of the Loon Cafe and president of the Warehouse District Business Association. "I think what it basically was was the straw that finally broke the camel's back."
Mahoney puts a lot of the blame on poor management at certain clubs that host so-called "18-plus" events on Sundays. Several years ago he decided to close the kitchen early on Sunday, preventing the under-21 crowd from coming inside. "It's definitely affecting our bottom line," Mahoney said.
City leaders are discussing various solutions and announced Friday that Hennepin County will double the number of sheriff's deputies patrolling downtown this weekend and extend their shifts until 3 a.m. They're also debating tougher penalties for problematic clubs, staggering or extending bar closing times, or providing more late-night food options.
The violence is reflected in the statistics. Violent crime has risen 60 percent this year in downtown Minneapolis. But First Precinct Inspector Eddie Frizell said most of that occurs between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. near First Avenue in the entertainment district.
City officials insist that downtown as a whole remains safe, but they fear the ripple effects that bar-closing violence will have on people's perception of the area.
"A mass majority of people who are downtown are not downtown at the nightclubs at 2 in the morning at bar close," said Council Member Lisa Goodman, who represents downtown. "But it doesn't matter if they're at risk or not, because when there is a perception that there's a crime problem, that perception becomes a reality 24/7."
Perception or reality, it takes a toll on the local economy.
Bar owner Erik Forsberg began preparing to relocate last summer when after-hours violence escalated in the club district. Shootings and stabbings that followed club closings were scaring away his customers at the Ugly Mug -- to the tune of about $50,000 in June.
"My business just completely dropped off because of it," said Forsberg, who sold the business and now runs a new bar, Devil's Advocate, near Nicollet Mall and far from the violence. "That's a staggering blow which takes months to recover from."
Dario Anselmo, owner of the Fine Line Music Cafe on First Avenue and 4th Street, said he has lost "tens of thousands of dollars" annually because of the violence.
"The business owners down there are tired of it," Anselmo said. "We have a crisis every year about this time of year. And if you know you have a crisis happening every year, then it really shouldn't be a crisis. It should be dealt with."
Anselmo said he believes the city needs to commit more resources to both police and regulatory efforts to help stem the problem.
Andrea Christenson, a vice president of the real estate firm Cassidy Turley, saw the ripple effects last year when trying to lease commercial space on First Avenue to restaurants. Several serious prospects walked away after witnessing the chaos at bar close.
"We had letters of intent going back and forth when they backed out," said Christenson. "They said, 'Have you been down here after midnight?' "
Club owners such as John Barlow claim they are often unfairly targeted. Barlow, who co-owns Epic on 5th Street, said they scan customers "like an airport" using metal detectors, hand wands, pat downs and even checking inside shoes. He says he bears some responsibility for bringing the crowds downtown "and trying to run a business," but he can't control violence on public streets.
"When are people going to be held responsible for their own conduct?" Barlow said. "I can police the front of my business. ... But when they go down into a parking lot or they go a block away, at some point I have to hand them off to someone."
In an interview, Mayor R.T. Rybak sounded a warning to the "few key bars" creating what he called "nuisance nights" on Sunday: "Knock it off or we'll be tougher in regulation. And we're looking right now at what we can do."
Rybak cited the "success" last year of actions taken against the club Karma (co-owned by Barlow), the scene of several violent incidents, which was regulated so heavily that it shut its doors.
But stiffer penalties also have their limits: The violence hasn't stopped, and Karma's clientele has dispersed to other establishments nearby.
A lot of attention is focused on the exodus that occurs when liquor service ends at 2 a.m. -- clubs must be empty by 2:30 a.m. "It's like the beginning of a race: Lift up the doors and all of the horses run," Celeste Shahidi, the owner of two buildings on First Avenue, described the scene. She thinks bar closing hours should be staggered to prevent the rush.
"From a public safety issue, it would be better to stagger closing so that some people are coming out at one time and another and another," said Rybak, who is also open to considering extending the closing time. "It's not the best to have everybody out on the street at 2 o'clock. But which business do you allow to stay open later or earlier is always the challenge."
Goodman said club owners hosting problematic 18-plus events need to take more responsibility. "They need to step forward as being part of the solution," he said. "Because we cannot police our way out of this."
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper
Baltimore Woman, 90, Locks Police Officer in Basement, Wins $95,000 Settlement
Radley Balko | Apr 19, 2012 03:11 PM EDT
In one of the more unusual police brutality lawsuits in recent years, 90-year-old Baltimore resident Venus Green was awarded a $95,000 settlement earlier this month after a 2009 incident in which she locked a police officer in the basement of her home.
According to WBAL TV, police came to Green's home after her grandson Tallie had been shot. Green told the TV station that Tallie had been shot at a convenience store, but officers insisted it happened in Green's home, and that Tallie had either been shot by Green or had shot himself. With that, one officer forced his way into her home, without a warrant, toward the basement where Tallie lived to look for blood or other evidence.
Green told WBAL the officer shoved her, pushed her over a chair, handcuffed her and insulted her. When the officer then went into her basement, she says she shut the door and locked him inside. She later brought a civil rights lawsuit, and in early April accepted the city's settlement offer. "[I'm a] law-abiding citizen," Green told WBAL. "I've never been arrested, I paid my taxes, owned my home, my husband died 34 years ago. [I] raised my son and I have been brutally abused. I feel like the police department needs to go back to school."
Green now seems destined to become part of Baltimore lore. In an April 10 Baltimore Sun op-ed, Stevenson University assistant professor Heather Harris deemed her a "fierce angel," a reference to the book by Sheri Parks. It's a phrase Parks uses "to describe an African-American woman who is almost impossibly strong and selfless."
WBAL reports that the city of Baltimore has paid out nearly $17 million over the last two years in police brutality settlements. Baltimore Brew reports the city has spent another $10.4 million defending lawsuits in court, and more are on the way. One couple who claims they were illegally searched and harassed by police looking for drugs has been approved for $155,000, and a motorcyclist struck by a Baltimore cop is due another $115,000.
The city has been subject to several suits from citizens who were arrested, harassed or threatened for recording on-duty police officers, despite the fact that the state's courts and attorney general have ruled that doing so isn't illegal. The Baltimore Police Department finally issued a directive to its officers not to arrest citizens for recording officers in public places, but according to some reports, police subsequently arrested camera and cell phone-toting citizens for loitering.
Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young seems less concerned about the possibility that police are violating the rights of Baltimore citizens than the fact that citizens who seek compensation are hurting the city's bottom line. Young voted against the settlement for Ms. Green, explaining that he was "tired of the police department bleeding money."