July 21, 2008
STAND UP! FIGHT BACK!
Special Copwatch Action
Friday, July 25
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Corner of 1st Avenue and 10th Street, Minneapolis
For the past several months, CUAPB has been documenting the use of low level offense ordinances such as lurking, loitering, trespass and public urination ordinances against homeless people near shelters. Darryl Robinson, vice president of CUAPB, heads up the project and has spent many hours outside of Harbor Lights, Mary Jo's Place and other areas capturing bad acts by the MPD on film. In the course of his work, he has been harassed repeatedly by police and recently received a trespassing citation himself.
About 10:45 p.m. last night, Minneapolis police attacked Darryl, beating and arresting him for "obstructing the sidewalk." During the attack, they slammed him in the head and face and repeatedly choked him to the point of unconsciousness. While handcuffed, he was thrown face first into the paddy wagon and taken to the Hennepin County jail. Luckily, another copwatcher was out with Darryl and was able to get word to us quickly. A large contingent from CUAPB converged on the jail. Before we arrived, one of the guards attempted to mess with Darryl at the jail but jail staff soon backed off and he was processed out quickly and released to us. Darry's injuries were documented and he was taken straight to the hospital. He sustained head, neck and jaw trauma along with other injuries. Hospital staff initially planned to admit him due to the extent of his injuries but he was eventually allowed to go home from the emergency room early this morning.
Now that the city council has given the MPD a blank check, police think they can get rid of their problems by just intimidating, harassing and even beating and falsely charging activists who dare question them. THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO STAND! We need to be right back out at that same corner where police tried to silence the community.
Join us on Friday night for a shelter-based copwatch. Bring a camera or a pad of paper and pen to take notes. Let it be known that the community WILL go wherever we need to in order to hold Minneapolis police accountable for their activities. While you are out with us on Friday, you can learn about other opportunities to help us with the important work of documenting police action against homeless people.
Plan also to be in court with Darryl on August 4, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. at the Hennepin County Government Center when he contests the false charges placed on him for daring to document police misconduct.
Friday, July 25th, 9:00 a.m.
350 S 5th Street, Minneapolis
The Minneapolis City Council recently passed a resolution that strips away our protections from police abuse and brutality when we're exercising our rights to free speech and public assembly. This rotten resolution allows the police to:
* Use rubber bullets whenever they feel it's "necessary"
* Confiscate or destroy cameras if they can be used for evidence
* Conceal their identities
* Infiltrate activist groups and target activist leaders
* Withhold medical assistance after they attack people
IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? If you say "no!" then join us! They passed this resolution without giving us a public hearing, but we're having one anyway! Rally at City Hall and tell the City Council they can't take away our rights without a fight! Then stay for the city council meeting after.
Brought to you by a broad coalition of Twin Cities-based activists. For more information on this issue, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
G.R. Anderson, Jr.
It seems like a distant memory, but eight years ago Minneapolis city leaders and the Minneapolis Police Department were grappling with an influx of young protesters some local and some from far-flung places who were in town to march against the International Society for Animal Genetics conference. The prevailing winds that summer said it was wise to avoid the violence and spectacle of the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle the previous fall.
That sentiment didn't carry over onto the streets, however, as protesters and cops alike engaged in some rather sketchy and brutish behavior; even some police officers at the time weren't sure the MPD performed the best policing practices. Undercover officers joined protests and made arrests, some protest groups were arrested and detained with little reason, pepper spray was used liberally. And some activists felt that their cause was undermined by the dreadlocked anarchy set. Goading of the police was all too frequent.
Recalling those quaint times, it's hard to remember exactly what all the fuss was about, given all that's happened since the summer of 2000, but in the moment folks were vexed enough that the Minneapolis City Council detailed a number of new policing practices in November 2000 that set out to curb the destruction on both sides of the protest line.
A Nov. 22, 2000, document details recommendations from the council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, including "no restricting access to public space without constitutional, reasonable cause," "no use of pepper spray, tear gas or similar substances except in situations justifying use of force," "no use of plastic bullets" and "no confiscation of videotapes, film and other recording materials."
But on June 6 of this year, the committee came up with a new list of recommendations to give direction to the MPD while the Republican Nation Convention is in town come Sept. 1. On June 20, the full council passed a resolution that on its face seems to further limit what the police can do with anticipated protesters, with one exception: Tagged to the end of the resolution, item 24 says: "This Resolution shall supersede the action of the City council on November 22, 2000, adopting a Policy Regarding Police Conduct at Political Demonstrations."
This has some activist groups up in arms, like the group Communities United Against Police Brutality, who point to two key omissions in the current resolution: No talk of restricting use of plastic or rubber bullets, and nothing restricting confiscation of video cameras.
Council member Cam Gordon (Second Ward) proposed an amendment at the June 20 meeting that sought to restore some of the items from the 2000 directive that were left out of the resolution passed last month. Today at 1 p.m., the public safety committee will discuss Gordon's amendment.
"I think were' going to get something done, though not as much as people hope," Gordon said Tuesday. "We'll get something."
Original directive unclear
To hear Gordon tell it, many of his colleagues on the council thought the 2000 directive was unclear; in fact the proposal never officially became a city resolution or ordinance.
"It was messy," Gordon said of the 2000 proposal, adding that it wasn't certain whether the directive carried any authoritative or legal parameters. "There were some good things in it, but it just wasn't very good work."
It's a sentiment echoed by council President Barb Johnson, who added the item about the current proposal superseding the old directive. "We needed significant clarifications about how police should act," Johnson said Monday. "We needed to clear up what we have."
For months the council and community activists have been struggling with what police should do if large numbers of protestrrs come to Minneapolis during the RNC a big "if" given that most of the action will be in St. Paul. The resolution passed on June 20 was the outgrowth of several council meetings and something called the Free Speech Working Group, which was intended to have activists and city leaders hash out an agreement over presumed protests.
And the June 20 resolution does have some points that appear to favor protesters, seeking to curb when the MPD can "disperse" any "participants in a public assembly," suggesting that the MPD make a video of when people are told to disperse, and directing that police "implement a method for enhancing the visibility to the public of the name or badge number of officers policing a planned public assembly."
All good ideas, according to Gordon, but with mixed results. "I wasn't necessarily opposed to this superseding the old directive," he said. "But some of it is about taking the wrong protections and sending the wrong message. I think we sent the wrong message."
The plastic bullets debate
The main part of the wrong message is that the current resolution allows for the MPD to confiscate recording devices, something that Johnson said, on the advice of the city attorney's office, would inhibit routine police work because sometimes cameras are needed to investigate a crime. More importantly, the current resolution allows for the use of plastic or rubber bullets, even though the MPD doesn't use them.
Still, Johnson said, Minneapolis police officers do have non-lethal weapons in their arsenal that could be considered as such, and the city attorney advised avoiding using that language in any kind of council directive to the MPD.
"I think that was of concern," Johnson said, regarding the city's liability on the issue. "Police do have, and I'm not using the right terms, some form of projectiles in their basket. There should be policies in place, but the council is giving direction to the police here. It can't be overkill."
Both Johnson and Gordon are like everyone else in one regard: No one seems to know how many, if any, large groups of protesters will make it to the City of Lakes. But no one wants to take any chances either.
Gordon, the council's lone Green Party member, considers himself a peace and justice guy, but even he knows the sentiment on the council is "a tendency to not have things clearly defined." (The council passed the resolution, written by council members Paul Ostrow, Gary Schiff and Ralph Remington, by a 10 to 2 vote. Gordon and Sandra Colvin Roy were the two dissenters.)
"We should be ready for the police to be tested, and some protesters stirring things up," Gordon said. "Hopefully we can keep it calm so no one gets hurt."
Was the resolution designed to loosen restrictions on the MPD? "I don't know," Gordon said. "It's hard to know where this is coming from. I know the 2000 resolution wasn't popular; Barb wasn't for it, so maybe this is an old dispute."
But Gordon believes that some of his eight-point amendment will at least pass out of committee today. "I'm hopeful about some things in the final policy that are there for legitimate public safety concerns," Gordon said. "But I'll compromise rather than sticking in my heels and probably losing."
Update from public safety committee meeting
Compromise is exactly what Gordon, by all accounts, offered shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday. Whether that's a good thing depends on your point of view.
Gordon circulated his proposed amendments to Resolution 2008R-248, "Adopting police policies regarding public assemblies," which passed June 20.
"We added a bit of a preamble," Gordon offered, and just three items down from the eight he originally sought as amendments. The preamble puffs up the "command structure" of the MPD, but "wishes to clearly enunciate police policies for such assemblies."
Then the three items tacked onto the end read:
* That MPD presence at public assemblies will be based on legitimate public safety concerns and not be based upon intent to chill First Amendment rights.
* In concurrence with state law, and city ordinance, MPD officers will not use pepper spray, tear gas, or similar substances, or projectiles except in situations where use of force is reasonable.
* That MPD officers shall not confiscate, destroy or tamper with cameras or other recording devices being used to document public assembly activities or MPD enforcement actions. This shall not apply to situations in which a) cameras or recording devices are to be used as evidence, or b) MPD officers arrest an individual in possession of cameras of recording devices.
The amendments were so toothless that Paul Ostrow, who has largely been sympathetic to the police on all matters RNC, cooed his approval. Ostrow drew an audible snort from the 15 or so protesters assembled who held up photos of one woman who was injured by rubber bullets from a department in another city.
"Our police department should be proud of the way they've handled protests," Ostrow said by way of supporting the amendments, apparently forgetting ISAG in 2000 or the incident involving Critical Mass bikers late last summer.
The five public safety committee members present for the voice vote all said "aye," and the motion carried. It now goes before the full council July 25.
Outside the council chambers, not everyone was a thrilled as Ostrow. "I think it's crap," said Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality. "It specifically doesn't ban rubber bullets. What this means is that they're probably getting federal money and can't wait to try them out."
Gross, who considers Gordon an ally on police issues--at least she used to--dismissed Gordon's efforts entirely, saying the only option left on the bullet controversy was to try to get people to come to the full council meeting.
"This is something fluffy to throw out to the community," she said. "But [Gordon] has screwed this community. I don't think I've been this mad at Cam. I'm pissed."
And in other protest news...
News that U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen sided with the city of St. Paul Wednesday in regards to the Republican National Convention protest march didn't sit well, naturally, with some of the poo-bahs of the movement.
Meredith Aby of the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War was at Minneapolis City Hall Wednesday afternoon the public safety committee pass amendments to an ordinance that could be viewed as anti-protester. The double-whammy had Aby somewhat stirred.
"The judge decided not to ... use her authority," Aby said outside the council chambers, adding that Ericksen is a Bush appointee. "She feels like it needs further discussion, but it's been discussed."
Aby's group applied in October 2006 for a permit to march on Sept. 1, the first day of the four-day convention. On May 16, the city issued a permit for a march from the Capitol down Cedar Street to the back of the Xcel, site of the convention. Citing proximity to the Xcel, security for the president and vice president and other court precedents, Ericksen ruled that the city had been more than generous with the route granted. Aby and others, however, are angling for what she calls a "public" route that involves Seventh Street and Kellogg Blvd. and brings the marchers to the front of the Xcel.
"The route given has several choke points," Aby said, citing part of Cedar and a "triangle" in front of the Dorothy Day Center. "There's no way 50,000 people can cover that. It would take us more than four hours to do that."
Time is also an issue for the protesters. The permit allows for the march to go from noon until 4 p.m., but marchers must be clear of an intersection near the arena by 3 p.m. According to Aby, the march probably won't start early, and some protesters will want to linger with one limited view of the Xcel the route affords. "People won't just turn on a dime" and go back, she said.
Lest one think that Aby is smelling a Bush conspiracy, she spared no harsh words for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. "Mayor Coleman is doing everything in his power to limit our space," she said, adding that a Democratic mayor is aligning himself with the other side.
Aby said the only recourse now is to meet with lawyers (again) and "continue our grassroots effort" to highlight the issue.
Even if it's a lost cause, Aby and her cohort clearly intend to go down swinging. "These people have never been to a national demonstration," she concluded. "Or if they have, then they want us to fail."
July 16, 2008
ALOHA, Ore. -- Police shot off a man's thumb with non-lethal sponge rounds after he threatened to kill people with a hammer, officers said.
Officers said they shot Marcelous Agers Jr., 54, six times with the non-lethal rounds and finally had to use a Taser to take him into custody after he continued to advance threateningly on police.
Sponge rounds are designed to be a non-lethal choice for officers that are unlikely to penetrate soft tissue because the round spreads the impact over a wide area, deputies said.
The incident began when deputies received multiple 911 calls about a man with a hammer threatening residents of an apartment complex at 18850 SW 185th Ave.
The callers said that the man was yelling that he "wanted to kill someone," banging on doors and at one point hit himself in the head with the hammer, police said.
Deputies said when they arrived, Agers was sitting on a step muttering to himself while holding a hammer and refused to drop it.
He stood up yelled at the deputy and raised the hammer as if preparing to strike, taking steps that alternated toward and away from the deputy, investigators said.
More deputies arrived at the scene and one of them was armed with a 40-mm multi-launcher armed with six sponge rounds, investigators said.
When Agers began to advance on the deputies, he was shot six times with the sponge rounds, but, although he was injured by the rounds, he continued to advance, investigators said.
Another deputy then got close enough to use a Taser to take him down long enough for the deputies to take him into custody, police said.
Once in custody, deputies saw that one of Agers' fingers had been severed. They found the detached finger and transported it with him to the hospital.
Investigators said it is likely that one of the sponge rounds hit his hand that was holding the hammer tightly and pinched the finger, severing it below the first knuckle.
Agers is still being evaluated by doctors but when released, investigators said he will face charges including menacing, disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a weapon.
Copyright 2008 by KPTV.com. All rights reserved.
Medical Expert Says Practice Is Troubling
Reported By Demetria Kalodimos
WSMV.com TV-Channel 4 Nashville
July 10, 2008
NASHVILLE, Tenn. While the Metro police had banned the use of Tasers for a time, they still used a controversial method to subdue unruly people, according to an I-Team report.
The city's policy to use the method, which calls for the injection of a drug into a person, came as a "total surprise" to people most would expect to know all about it.
For almost two years, Metro police have had the option of calling for a needle loaded with a strong sedative to control the most unruly people they encounter on the street.
One of the doctors who came up with the protocol said it's the safest option out there and that it is used all over the country
But many people said that the injection was news to them, and a top medical ethicist said it's a troubling precedent.
The drug is called Midazolam, which is better known as Versed. People who have had a colonoscopy have probably had a shot of the drug for the procedure.
"The drug has an amnesia effect, and we use that therapeutically because one of the nice ways to take care of the discomfort is to make people forget that they've had it," said biomedical ethics and law enforcement expert Dr. Steven Miles.
But the shots have also been used on the streets on people police said were out of control.
One of the first to get the shot administered to them was Dameon Beasley.
"Well, that night, I hadn't been properly taking my meds, you know, like I'm supposed to. I got so depressed that when I was up on the bridge running into traffic back and forth, cars dodging me, swerving, I ended up with two sharp objects in my hands. By that time, the police had arrived. I was charging them with these sharp objects trying to make them shoot me, actually yelling at them to shoot me," he said.
When a Taser didn't work on Beasley, police turned to a brand new protocol an injection of Versed. Officers called emergency medical personnel for the injection.
"I remember they were holding me down. There was maybe four or five on each side, and I remember they were calling for something, you know. Some guy came up on the left side and hit me with it," he said.
"I do know that whatever it was works immediately. I mean, you ain't got a chance if you are 300 pounds. It's like a horse tranquilizer. I don't care. You're gone. It's a wrap," he said.
Beasley said he had no idea what happened after he was injected.
"I woke up I don't know how much time had passed with a sergeant standing over me telling me to sign here. I didn't know what I was signing, Ms. (Channel 4 I-Team reporter Demetria) Kalodimos. I just signed a piece of paper and was immediately right back out," he said.
Kalodimos reported that Beasley ended up at Metro General Hospital and was then put in psychiatric care. He was not charged in the incident on the bridge.
But Beasley's lawyer, a public defender, had no idea that Versed had been used to subdue him until Kalodimos told him about it.
"Very few people seem to know about the almost 2-year-old policy," Kalodimos said. "The state's largest mental health advocacy group, Nashville's mental health judge, the Nashville Rescue Mission, I've talked to my colleagues around the country, the American Civil Liberties Union, all said they had no knowledge of the use of the drug by police."
"None of the people from the south to the north to the east to the west have ever heard about this kind of program, this kind of use where they basically force an injection upon an individual knowing nothing about his or her medical condition," said ACLU Director Hedy Weinberg.
"I can't tell you why those individuals don't know about it," said Dr. Corey Slovis, Nashville's emergency medical director.
Along with medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy, Slovis customized a Versed policy for Nashville that is endorsed by a group of emergency medical experts called the Eagles.
"It's something that in the medical community and in the EMS medical community is very common. It's a given. When I surveyed the major metropolitan areas around the country, I think only two cities were not actively using it," Slovis said.
Some have asked the question about potential problems.
Miles said he also had never heard of Versed being used in this way. "There is no research guideline. There is no validated protocol for this. There's not even a clear set of indications for when this is to be used except when people are agitated. By saying that it's done by the emergency medical personnel, they basically are trying to have it both ways. That is, they're trying to use a medical protocol that is not validated, not for a police function, arrest and detention," Miles said.
"The decision to administer Versed is based purely on a paramedic decision, not a police decision," Slovis said.
It's up to the officer to call an ambulance and determine if a person is in a condition called excited delirium.
"I don't know if I would use the word diagnosing, but they are assessing the situation and saying, 'This person is not acting rationally. This is something I've been trained to recognize, this seems like excited delirium.' I don't view delirium in the field as a police function. It is a medical emergency. We're giving the drug Versed that's routinely used in thousands of health care settings across the country in the field by trained paramedics. I view what we're doing as the best possible medical practice to a medical emergency," Slovis said.
Metro Government would not release the names of the eight other people who got Versed injections after police calls. A representative from Metro said that the information was protected in the way a medical record would be. The representative said that only one person out of the nine had shown no improvement after the injection.
Versed was most recently used on a female in early June.
Three women of child bearing age have apparently gotten shots without consent, even though the package insert for Versed suggests that, "the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus."
"A single administration to calm a wildly delirious patient down even if she/s pregnant is much safer to the woman and her unborn child than being allowed to be delirious, hypothermic, hyperventilating and perhaps hypoxic," Slovis said.
"I would think that with enough people being able to tackle the person to inject them, there should be another way to try to subdue someone without putting an injection in their vein," Weinberg said.
The biggest side effect that is seen in more than 80 percent of those who are injected with Versed is amnesia.
The side effect raises the question of a person being able to defend themselves in court if they can't remember what happened.
"If they would've said I'd done anything after that shot, hey, I couldn't have argued that fact. I don't remember," Beasley said.
Kalodimos reported that while doing research for this report, she found a post on a paramedics Internet chat site that said, "One good thing about Versed is that the patient won't remember how he got that footprint on his chest."
"We're very careful in Nashville," Slovis said. "Every instance of Versed use is reviewed by the both medical director, myself, our head of EMS quality assurance. We make sure that our paramedics treat patients right."
Miles said it would have been appropriate to put the idea of using Versed before what's called an Institutional Review Board for study to anticipate problems before they pop up.
"It may well be that a protocol could be designed to test the use of Versed in handling agitated persons at the time of detention. I'm not going to say that's not possible, but at any rate, you do it under a condition where you collect data rather than simply just going ahead and doing the drug and waiting to see if problems to develop," he said.
Miles added that, "Doing medicine by the seat of your pants is not the way to develop new therapies."
Slovis said the shots are given as a medical treatment, not a police function, even though ultimately they aid in an arrest.
Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)
Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South