WHAT IS POLICE BRUTALITY?
Communities United Against Police BrutalityTM uses the term "police brutality" as an overarching term to describe the use of excessive or unnecessary force, misconduct, and abuse of authority by law enforcement personnel. Police brutality is often associated with racial profiling, other forms of discrimination and harassment of targeted people.
WHO IS AFFECTED BY POLICE BRUTALITY?
Although a majority of Minnesota police brutality takes place in a broader context of the nationwide epidemic of police violence and race and class profiling, where victims are predominantly people of color and low income people, police brutality respects no boundaries.
- Barbara Schneider, a white woman suffering from mental illness, was shot to death after Minneapolis police officers rammed through her locked apartment door and forcefully entered her bedroom. Their reason: she was playing her radio too loudly.
- Artis Graham, a 35-year-old African-American man, died six days after being brutally beaten with flashlights and batons by St. Paul police officers while his hands were cuffed behind his back. He had been stopped for a traffic violation. Police allege Artis was fleeing police in his car.
- Alfred “Abuka” Sanders, another African-American man, was gunned down on November 1, 2000 by Minneapolis police officers while trapped helplessly in his car in the alley near his home, after being followed by police and an Augsburg College security guard, for allegedly driving erratically. Police fired 33 rounds of ammunition at Alfred, striking his body at least 16 times. He was unarmed and had committed no crime.
- Fong Lee, 18, was shot 8 times in the back by Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen as he ran away after Andersen rammed Fong’s bike with his squad car. Police claim he was armed and a gang member but witnesses and his family dispute this and a video on the scene showed that his hands were empty. The gun found on the scene had been in police custody up until the incident and although Fong’s hands were bloody and damaged, none of his DNA was on the gun. Also on the scene was a state trooper who felt no need to draw his weapon.
These cases represent only a fraction of the many local victims who have lost their lives because of increasing police brutality in Minnesota. Their wrongful deaths are a violation of human rights and nothing less than government-sanctioned murder.
Over our history, roughly 60% of people contacting our hotline with a police brutality complaint are African Americans. This is similar to the racial composition of those filing complaints with city agencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Caucasian people make up 15% of our callers. Significant numbers of people we work with are homeless or low income. The racial composition of those calling from outstate areas varies, but generally reflects the local populations of people of color and low income people in those areas.
As police target particular communities, brutality becomes a weapon for the repression of people of color, immigrants, homeless people, youth, activists and others. The impact on our communities is to create a climate of fear and powerlessness while abusive police act with impunity.
As each new police brutality incident occurs in our area, many people respond in powerful ways to demand justice for the victim. But we have learned that handling each case separately is not an effective way to deal with police brutality. Reinventing the wheel with each new case almost assures there will be more cases.
This organization was created to deal with police brutality on an ongoing basis. We work on the day-to-day abuses as well as taking on the more extreme cases. We work to combat police brutality from many angles, including political and legislative action, education, research, and providing advocacy for victims and their families.
Our overriding goal is to create a climate of resistance to abuse of authority by police organizations and to empower local people with a structure that can take on police brutality and actually bring it to an end.
In a society governed by laws and not individuals, no one should be above the law. This includes the police.
Police brutality is real. Real people really do die unjustly at the hands of criminal police. Police must be held accountable for their actions and we must demand new policies and practices, as well as prosecution of police who brutalize people.
People in our community can stop police brutality now if we work together to create a climate in which it is not tolerated. This organization provides provides services to empower families and survivors and an ongoing framework for people to effectively challenge police brutality in powerful ways.
Join our campaign to stop police brutality!