8/17/2004 Newsletter


  • Philander Jenkins Update and Court Watch
  • Every Mother's Son Film on Stolen Lives
  • Resurgence of Police State Measures
  • FBI Visits Disturb Local Somali Community
  • Tyranny in the Name of Freedom: "Free Speech" Zones, Arrests for Holding Anti-Bush Shirts

Thursday, August 19th
9:00 a.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
Meet us at the big fountain on the main service level
Pre-Hearing Rally and Political Action

Regular readers of this newsletter know that even though Judge Charles Porter declared a mistrial in Hennepin County's case against Philander Jenkins and ruled that the charges could never be brought again, sleazy prosecutor Anita Jehl brought Philander back into court in front of a different judge WITHOUT NOTIFYING HIS ATTORNEYS and attempted to have the charges reinstated. Not only that, but she actually convinced Judge Duffy to raise Philander's bail. Now, the purpose of bail is to eliminate flight risk AND a condition of setting bail is that the prosecution has a reasonable chance of actually getting a conviction. Don't know what Judge Duffy's problem is but in this case the prosecution has a ZERO chance of getting a conviction so there should be NO BAIL. We're told that when Philander tried to object to the hearing being held without his attorneys, Duffy went off on him. Still, despite being a rude a**hole to Philander in court, Duffy got one thing right--he told sleazy Anita that she would have to take the case back to Judge Porter to try to reinstate the charges.

There was supposed to be a hearing in front of Judge Porter last week but it was moved to this Thursday due to scheduling issues. THIS HEARING IS SUPER IMPORTANT--WE REALLY NEED TO PACK THE COURT ROOM. If you want to see the showdown of the century--pitting the rank power of a morally bankrupt county prosecutor against the sheer willpower and sharp skills of some of the best people's attorneys in the state--you'll be there!

We'll meet at the fountain on the main floor of the Hennepin County Government Center at 9:00 a.m. this Thursday, August 19th and will proceed together to the courtroom, maybe stopping to pay a visit to some of our county officials along the way.

In the meantime, you can call the Hennepin County Prosecutor, Amy Klobuchar, and let her know what you think of her office wasting taxpayer dollars with vindictive prosecutions. Tell her: Drop the charges on Philander and Fire Anita Jehl. Klobuchar's office phone: 612-348-5550, fax 612-348-9712.

Channel 2
Sunday, August 22 at 11:00 p.m.
Rebroadcast the next morning at 5:00 a.m.

In the late 1990s, three victims of police brutality made headlines around the country: Amadou Diallo, the young West African man whose killing sparked intense public protest; Anthony Baez, killed in an illegal choke-hold; and Gary (Gidone) Busch, a Hasidic Jew shot and killed outside his Brooklyn home. "Every Mother's Son" tells of the victims' three mothers who came together to demand justice and accountability. For more on this incredible film, go to http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2004/everymothersson/index.html and click on "film synopsis."

Even before the national broadcast, EVERY MOTHER'S SON has already had an excellent response from audiences, winning the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and playing to a packed crowd of young people at the Hip-Hop Convention in Newark.

We urge you to watch this important film. It's a shame that our local PBS station is choosing to air it at such inconvenient times. CUAPB has a copy of the film and if there is interest, we can schedule a showing.

In light of widespread reports of FBI agents interviewing activists and others around the country leading up to the Republican Convention in New York City, we offer the following articles. If you're following the news out of New York, you'll note that media there are pumping out stories claiming activists are planning tactics (like releasing mice on Broadway) that no one has ever contemplated or discussed. There are broad efforts to vilify activists and scare potential allies out of protesting the Bush & Co. agenda. Whatever position you take on the war and the rest of that agenda, we all must be prepared to diligently defend our civil rights and those who are attacked in the name of "homeland security."

An important reminder: You are NEVER required to cooperate with federal agents who question you. If agents arrive at your door, step outside and lock the door behind you (to keep them from looking into your house for a pretext to enter). Stand on your doorstep and simply tell them to contact your attorney and give the name and phone number. Watch them leave before re-entering your house. Alternately, you can speak to them through your closed, locked door. Remember: what you say CAN and WILL be used against you--don't talk!
Community groups offer reminders about rights
Pioneer Press

Somalis and other Muslims in the Twin Cities reportedly are receiving more contacts from federal agents, prompting community groups to issue reminders about their rights during such encounters.

On Tuesday, the Somali Justice Advocacy Center of St. Paul began distributing "know your rights" fliers in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis and other Twin Cities areas where Somalis live. Omar Jamal, the center's executive director, said he hoped to make the fliers, in Somali and English, available in Rochester and Mankato and at mosques throughout the state on Friday.

"My serious concern in all of this is that when an interview happens, out of fear and a lack of understanding of the system, they might incriminate themselves when they haven't done anything wrong," Jamal said. "It's a very tense, very fearful, very confused situation as it stands right now."

The number of visits by agents to Somali residences appears to have increased in the last two or three weeks, based on calls and questions from community members, Jamal said. The fliers ask anyone contacted by law enforcement agents or immigration officers to call the center at 651-917-0383. The fliers recommend having a lawyer present when talking to authorities.

Special Agent Paul McCabe, spokesman for the FBI office in Minneapolis, said members of the agency's local Joint Terrorism Task Force had been conducting more interviews with community members in recent months. All are a result of intelligence information and none are done at random.

McCabe described the interviews as low-key and said no one had been detained while they took place. FBI agents and task force members go through cultural diversity training to prepare them to conduct the interviews. Agents also explain civil rights to interview subjects, and the FBI office has received no complaints about the interviews.

"We have reached out since 9/11 & to alleviate fears about these kinds of interviews," McCabe said. "Really, all we're asking for is their cooperation in the war on terrorism, and for the most part they have been very cooperative and very helpful to law enforcement."

The Muslim American Society also is distributing a brochure to inform members, many of whom are immigrants, of their rights, a woman who answered the phone at the group's Inver Grove Heights office said.

Tom Heffelfinger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, could not be reached for comment.

Peter Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, said he had consulted with both groups on the issue.

"It is very difficult to feel comfortable not answering questions when someone in authority asks them," Erlinder said. "The natural assumption is that if you don't cooperate, somehow that makes you suspicious. It's hard to get across the idea that the safest thing is not to answer, because your answer may be misunderstood."

Erlinder said federal law enforcement officials had met recently with community leaders but declined to elaborate.

Todd Nelson can be reached at [email protected] or 651-228-5575.
August 12, 2004

So it has come down to this: You are at liberty to exercise your First Amendment right to assemble and to protest, so long as you do so from behind chain-link fences and razor wire, or miles from the audience you seek to address.

The largely ignored "free-speech zone" at the Democratic convention in Boston last month was an affront to the spirit of the Constitution. The situation will be only slightly better when the Republicans gather this month in New York, where indiscriminate searches and the use of glorified veal cages for protesters have been limited by a federal judge. So far, the only protesters with access to the area next to Madison Square Garden are some anti-abortion Christians. High-fiving delegates evidently fosters little risk of violence.

It's easy to forget that as passionate and violent as opposition to the Iraq war may be, it pales in comparison with the often bloody dissent of the Vietnam era, when much of the city of Washington was nevertheless a free-speech zone.

It's tempting to say the difference this time lies in the perils of the post-9/11 world, but that argument assumes some meaningful link between domestic political protest and terrorism. There is no such link, except in the eyes of the Bush administration, which conflates the two both as a matter of law and of policy.

It started with Attorney General John Ashcroft's declaration, shortly after 9/11: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists." This was an early attempt to couple disagreeing on civil liberties with abetting terrorists. And while I'm not reflexively opposed to the entire Patriot Act, two provisions do serve more to quell protest than terrorism.

One section invented a broad new crime called "domestic terrorism" - punishing activities that "involve acts dangerous to human life" if a person's intent is to "influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." If that sounds as if it's directed more toward effigy-burning, or Greenpeace activity, than international terror, it's because it is. International terror was already illegal.

A second provision, already deemed unconstitutional in one federal court, was used to prosecute Sami Omar al-Hussayen, a Muslim graduate student at the University of Idaho who was charged with using the Internet to offer "expert advice or assistance" to terrorists by posting fatwahs and hyperlinks to a Hamas Web site. He was acquitted by a jury this summer, partly because the judge warned jurors that speech - even speech advocating the use of force or the breaking of laws - is constitutionally protected, unless directed toward inciting imminent lawless action.

An even more pernicious use of the federal law enforcement power to quash protest has been observed at presidential speeches, where the Bush team has used the Secret Service at public events to create "free-speech zones" that keep dissenters away from the president.

In 2002 Brett Bursey, a South Carolinian, was arrested for holding a "No War for Oil" sign near a hangar where Bush was speaking. The West Virginia police reported that the Secret Service had directed them to arrest a couple sporting anti-Bush T-shirts at a public speech this year. And an account by Justin Rood in Salon last week revealed that at a recent rally in Duluth, Minn., Secret Service checkpoints were festooned with photos of men posing some ostensible physical danger to the president: one was a professor active in the Green Party, another a pacifist homeless activist. Both had plans to protest the war during Mr. Bush's visit.

Michael Moore's cookie-wielding Fresno peace activists look almost dangerous in comparison. Without evidence that pacifist protesters plan to violate their own credos and bludgeon the president with their Birkenstocks, the use of the Secret Service to silence them is an abuse of executive power.

Enormous national events will inevitably be terror targets. So will the president. But before we single out the anarchists and the environmentalists and the puppet-guys for diminished constitutional protections - before we herd them into what are speech-free zones - we might question whether they represent the real danger. If we don't recognize the distinction between passionate political speech and terrorism now, it may be too late to protest later.

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"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." -Elie Wiesel

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

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