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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cornel West on Obama and his denial of a Black Agenda

Communities United Against Police Brutality newsletter

Communities United Against Police Brutality
EMAIL NEWS
February 22, 2010
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UPCOMING EVENTS
Tons of great events coming up--a busy February and March.

FREE MUMIA!
Legal Update on the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Saturday, 2/27, 3:00 p.m.
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
William Mitchell Law School Professor Peter Erlinder will present an update on the latest legal rulings in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, political prisoner on death row in Pennsylvania. Mumia is the ultimate police brutality survivor. For years, he was a radio broadcaster telling the stories of oppressed people and he earned the nickname "voice of the voiceless." He also earned the ire of the Philly police, who promised that he would be made to pay for exposing their brutality and corruption. After being shot and severely beaten by police, he was then falsely charged and convicted of murder of a police officer who was killed in the same incident. Despite another man confessing to the shooting, Mumia has remained on death row for over 25 years. His case has taken many twists and turns as it moves through the legal system but one recurring theme has been that the system seems to have a separate set of rules just for Mumia every time his case goes to court. A recent decision by the US Supreme Court follows this trend as it bucked precedent to deny Mumia a new trial. Come learn about the current status of the case and what you can do to FREE MUMIA!
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Calendar of Events with Dhoruba Bin-Wahad
In November 2009 Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, a former U.S. political prisoner, leader the Black Panther Party, and member of the Black Liberation Army, was detained and deported from the West Bank of occupied Palestine by Israeli authorities. He had been invited to attend a conference on political detention by the Palestinian Authority. Dhoruba spent 19 years of a life sentence in jail for a crime he did not commit. He was a target of the FBI's COINTELPRO, was arrested in 1971 and had his conviction overturned in 1990. He will discuss historic and current struggles against social injustice and state violence in the U.S. and in Palestine, with a specific focus on political prisoners and institutions that repress social movement mobilization within communities fighting oppression. During international Israel Anti-Apartheid week (March 1-7), join a wide array of Twin Cities organizations to hear this powerful speaker, who challenges conventional wisdom and inspires people to embrace social change. A flyer listing all events is at http://midwestgreenscare.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/dbw-flyer-all-events2.pdf

Community Dinner with Dhoruba Bin Wahad
Sunday, 2/28, 7 p.m.
Walker Church, 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
$5 suggested donation, no one turned away due to lack of funds
CUAPB and the RNC 8 Defense Committee are hosting this community dinner and doing the cooking. Vegan, vegetarian and meat options will be available. Come out for some great food and be nourished in body and spirit.

Lecture and Q&A
Monday, 3/1, 7 p.m.
University of Minnesota's Blegen Hall, Room 5

Lecture and Q&A
Tuesday, 3/2, 11:15 a.m.
Hamline University, Sundin Music Hall
1536 Hewitt Ave, St. Paul

Lecture and Refreshments
Tuesday, 3/2, 6 p.m.
Historic Pilgrim Baptist Church
732 Central Ave, St. Paul (enter on west side of building)
This event is hosted by St. Paul NAACP.
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Community Forum on Reappointment of Minneapolis Police Chief Dolan
Monday, 3/1, 6:30 p.m.
Shiloh Temple, 1201 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis
Enter parking lot from Girard, park in fenced in lot, enter through back of building.
This will be a repeat of the red-hot event that happened on the southside last month. Panelists will present information on why Dolan should not be reappointed and will arm the community with talking points and information for the 3/3 public hearing by the city council on Dolan's reappointment. Refreshments will be served.
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Public Hearing on the Reappointment of Chief Dolan
Wednesday, 3/3, 1:30 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall, Rm 317
Come and plan to speak out against the reappointment of Tim Dolan to Minneapolis police chief. CUAPB will distribute copies of a comprehensive report on Dolan's tenure as chief. We need to pack this meeting and make city hall see that we mean business. YOUR PRESENCE AT THIS HEARING IS VITAL--MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH TO BE THERE! Be sure to arrive early and sign up to speak.
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CRA Board Meeting
Wednesday, 3/3, 6:30 p.m
Minneapolis City Hall, Rm 333.
350 S. Fifth Street (but enter on the 4th Street side)
After last month's wild ride and this month's legal action to force the CRA and Dolan to follow the law (see below) , the fur should be flying at this meeting. With some added surprises, perhaps one of the most exciting activist events this year. You will not want to miss this meeting!
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CRA SAGA: BOARD BOWS TO POWER STRUCTURE, IGNORES COMMUNITY
CUAPB TAKES LEGAL ACTION
These last few weeks have been quite the adventure with the Minneapolis Civilian Review Board. The CRA is a city agency outside of the police department that processes complaints on police conduct. The agency employs investigators and other staff members. A board of community members oversees the agency, holds hearings on and determines the outcome of complaints, makes policy recommendations, tracks and trends police brutality cases and does community outreach--at least that's what they are supposed to be doing. However, with a few notable exceptions, this board has been loathe to do anything of substance to hold the police department accountable. One shining exception has been Dave Bicking, city council candidate and long-time activist. Bicking consistently urges the board to push forward on important issues such as the Taser policy. He was the primary author of the recently released CRA Participation in Performance Review of MPD Chief Dolan (available at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cra/docs/CRA-Board_Chief-Dolan_review_2009.pdf ), a report documenting Dolan's continued refusal to discipline sustained CRA cases based on bogus excuses.

As we told you in the last newsletter, Bicking participated in a forum on whether Chief Dolan should be reappointed and he was quoted in the paper expressing his opposition. In both instances, he made it clear that he was expressing only his own opinion, not speaking for the CRA. As a result, CRA board chair Donald Bellfield wrote a scathing letter to the mayor, city council, civil rights director and others slamming Bicking. However, the board never approved the letter, which was written on CRA letterhead and framed as if it was coming from the whole board. In other words, Bellfield is actually guilty of what he falsely accused Bicking of doing--speaking for the CRA board without their permission.

During its February 3 meeting, the board could have addressed this conduct by sending a letter to the same people who received the first letter clarifying that Bellfield's letter didn't represent the board. This would have been especially important to do as Bicking is coming up for reappointment. However, they would not pass a motion to do that. Apparently, they are too afraid of pissing off the power elite in city hall so they instead threw Bicking under the proverbial bus. Read the minutes from that meeting to see just how low those board members stooped: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cra/CRA-02-03-2010.pdf

On top of everything else, Chief Dolan showed up for less than 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting spouting a line about how much he respects the CRA. This, after three years of refusing to discipline their complaints, dissing them at every opportunity in the media, etc. He made vague promises about "working together." So, let me see. Now that he is up for reappointment, he is finally ready to "work together" with the same CRA he is so quick to criticize. It would have been hilarious except that most of the board members actually drank the koolaid. For months, we've been trying to get chair Bellfield to follow the part of the CRA ordinance that says the CRA chair “shall notify the executive committee [of the Minneapolis city council] of the chief’s failure to comply with the requirements of this section [172.130, Disciplinary Decisions].” Now that the CRA's report provides proof of Dolan's failure to follow the CRA ordinance, the CRA board was presented with a motion directing their chair to report that failure to the city council, as required by the ordinance. With the city council considering the reappointment of Dolan, timing is critical. Yet, this board refused to pass the motion stating they wanted to try to work things out with Dolan. Again, more proof that they would rather suck up to the power structure than assert their own power and serve the community. No wonder people in the community don't take them seriously.

Finally, the community got to speak. Usually the public speaking portion of the meeting happens before the board conducts business but acting chair weasel Justin Terrell engineered it so they would screw over Dave and the community before the community could try to stop them. Nonetheless, the packed room full of people expressed their sheer disgust with the board's failure to act. The minutes give a pretty accurate depiction of the comments, though it did leave out the part where Terrell tried to shut this editor up and I dared him to call the cops on me.

After seeing the total acquiescence of most of the CRA board to the city administration and police chief, we knew we had to do something. On February 12, we filed a petition for a Writ of Mandamus, a court order directing a public official to follow the law. The writ petition has two parts--one directs Bellfield to give notice to the city council about Dolan's violations of the law and that Dolan is subject to discipline for such failure, and the second part directs Dolan to show cause as to why he is not in violation of the law (he won't be able to, as he is in violation of the law). After the long holiday weekend, Judge Susan Burke granted the first part of our writ ordering Bellfield to submit the required notice to the city council by their 9:30 a.m. meeting the next day or show up in court. He was served the writ at his home but, amazingly, ignored it by neither filing the notice nor showing up in court. Instead, three city attorneys appeared in court (claiming they couldn't get ahold of him) and claimed the report on Dolan WAS the required notice, a ridiculous claim. After a short hearing, Judge Burke indicated she would "take the matter under advisement" and we are still waiting for a ruling. We certainly hope the judge will take note of the fact that a mere two hours after he was to have been in court, Bellfield was interviewed by Andy Mannix with City Pages--so much for being unavailable. Contempt of court doesn't seem like too strong of a sentiment.

We're also awaiting word on when we can depose Chief Dolan for the second half of the writ petition. This should happen soon.

At this point, the CRA board has done so much bowing to the power elite of this city that they really have ensured that the CRA cannot carry out its mission. This is truly sickening, given how hard the community has fought for a CRA in the first place. Perhaps the court will force the board chair to take a small action to reclaim the power of the CRA. Perhaps the court will also help to hold Chief Dolan accountable for thumbing his nose at CRA complaints. No matter what, the majority of the members on the CRA board have outed themselves as sycophants for the current administration. They should step down so they can be replaced by people who have the backbones to do the job.

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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
http://www.CUAPB.org

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