Monday, November 24, 2014

Pointergate AKA Signs of Anarchy Can Have A Silver Lining: Time for State and Federal Officials to Reopen Metro Gang Strike Force Corruption Investigation

Kudos to Jon Stewart and his intelligent and savvy staff at the Daily Show for doing so effectively the job that conventional news outlets have been so woeful at:  confronting the spin, half truths and in this instance flat out falsehoods used by powerful and monied elites to manipulate the audience aka the electorate.  I am humbled and envious of the manner in which Stewart and the Daily Show time and again takes on seemingly divisive issues, lays out the facts and surrounding context in a truthful manner.  What once looked like a divisive issue at an impasse, when exposed to the bright sunshine of the truth, often becomes a no brainer and hilarious to boot.

I found especially brilliant the way Stewart takes on the ridiculous positions of powerful interests, whoever they are, in this instance a union for the Mpls Police and a media conglomerate, Hubbard Broadcasting and KSTP.  On several occasions Stewart did not have to say a word, but rather, used to greater effect, pregnant pauses and let the ridiculous arguments and conclusions based on fear, misinformation and racism collapse of their own weight.  I know its been said many times before but it is bad omen for a democratic society when entertainment outlets have to become more like news outlets because the news outlets have become more like entertainment.  Whether intentional or through serendipity, the effect is the same, a dummy downed, increasingly passive audience and electorate which is easier to manipulate and control.

Shame on KSTP and its billionaire owner Stanley Hubbard for reflexively defending its shoddy journalism with arrogance and insecurity instead of dealing with a mistake in judgment with honesty and humility.  Surely Stanley Hubbard, a man who built a media empire is more intelligent and sensitive then the angry, illogical and ridiculous caricature of a human being impression that one gets when listening to his interview on Minnesota Public Radio on November 14, 2014  Listen to it at http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/11/14/hubbard.

Lastly there is nothing funny about gang violence and the scourge it can be to a city.  One only needs to look at contemporary Chicago to see the impact and effects it can have.  But even more dangerous is the tendency in this country to go overboard with a law enforcement response to a gang problem.  I would hope that all the attention devoted to Minneapolis and the issue of gangs could have a constructive outcome, a silver lining.

I would like to say the country could learn from the approach taken in Minnesota with the Metro Gang Strike Force but to our great shame not only was the Metro Gang Strike Force the most corrupt, out of control law enforcement entity in state history, I would submit it was the most dangerous criminal organization period.  They broke the law with impunity, lacked supervision, mocked the very citizens and constitution they were sworn to protect and uphold and most dangerously never held accountable by county attorneys and the state attorney general.  Please read the excellent reporting in the Minneapolis Star Tribune , by Lora Pabst, Randy Furst  and staff writers:

Sheriff tried to dissuade Gang Strike Force audit

Bob Fletcher says he changed his mind after cash and vehicles could not be found.

April 5: Several officials criticize Gang Strike Force's publicly funded Hawaii trip

The new strike force leader called the tab "ridiculous," but his predecessor labeled critics "nitwits."

Metro Gang Strike Force had illegal meeting: Experts

Board members e-mailed each other to get agreement on a statement to preempt an editorial on Hawaii trip.

Suit: Gang Strike Force seized money without cause

A young Honduran says Gang Strike Force officers took $4,500 from him last year at an impound lot with...

Gang Strike Force cops shredded documents

A written account by the Strike Force's commander said a dumpster behind the Strike Force's offices in New Brighton...

Document shredding puts Strike Force in doubt

The integrity of the team of 34 officers and supervisors from 13 local law enforcement agencies, who focus on...

Gang Strike Force seizures criticized

The state's Legislative Auditor raised new questions about how the Metro Gang Strike Force disposed of vehicles that it...

Minneapolis, Metro Transit police pull out of Gang Strike Force

Minneapolis police said the decision is financial, but it is more bad news for the anti-gang unit.

Gang Strike Force shut down after audit finds $18,000, 13 cars missing

The decision to immediately close the offices was made after some Strike Force investigators turned up at the agency's...

Strike Force was rife with misconduct, panel charges in new report

Report details breadth of misconduct, saying officers took home property that had no proven connection to crime.

Two top strike force leaders part of inquiry

The Star Tribune has learned the identities of 16 officers reportedly under investigation.

Crime fighters gone rogue

The Gang Strike Force racked up many victories; then stardom turned to ashes.

Seized money: One man fought back

Wilbur Haisley had $3,319 - until a Metro Gang Strike Force officer took it.
the final report

Next read the entire review panel's report including their thoughtful and well reasoned recommendations to abolish all similar multi-jurisdictional (i.e. uncontrolled) task forces and a change in the forfeiture laws as well as links to recent articles on the trials and tribulations of the Metro Gang Strike force see https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/co/about/Documents/final_report_mgsf_review_panel.pdf

Then ask yourself "Why werent these criminals with badges held accountable or at the very least prosecuted?"  Hell they were not even disciplined.  Is there any wonder why the citizens and especially the poor and communities of color, the ones most likely to be the victims of bullies, thugs and organized criminals be they street gangs or strike forces, have poor relations with and do not trust law enforcement.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

For all the Xenophobes, Bigots and Rednecks, You Know Who You Are, Word Up!




Immigrant Song
(as told by B. Obama)

Ah, ah,
We come from the land called Mexico
From the midnight sun where the tequilla flows.
The hammer of the roofers will drive our desire to work,
To fight the bigot bores, singing and crying: California, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.

Ah, ah,
We come from the land called Mexico,
From the midnight sun where the tequilla flows.
We work in your fields so green, working jobs where the pay is lean,
Of how we calmed the tides of the drug war. We are Not drug overlords.

On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.

So now you expect us to rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day despite all your losing ways.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

St. Louis Grand Jury Will Not Hand Up An Indictment Against Ferguson Police Officer in the Killing of Michael Brown But Outrage Should Be Directed On Murder of Kajieme Powell


As a long time (26 years) criminal defense attorney, based upon the information I have gleaned from the media, which if substantially correct, I fully expect that the St. Louis County, Missouri grand jury will not hand up an indictment in the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.  I say this not out of any allegiance to law enforcement or along racial lines, quite to the contrary I am a harsh critic of law enforcement, have established groundbreaking precedent on police liability and despise bullys, bigots and cowards with every fiber of my being.  But I also acknowledge the police have an extremely difficult job that often does not pay enough to attract the caliber of human being whom we entrust with discretion to use deadly force.  From what I know of the facts of the Michael Brown case and the lack of objective evidence as to the events leading up to Michael's death, sadly the fair and correct decision may in fact be not to indict.  The fact of the matter is though, until this process is completely over, we as the public simply do not know.

Rather than focusing our outrage over this tragedy I strongly suggest that the U.S. Justice Department look into another St. Louis area Police shooting that is not by any stretch of the imagination a close call:  The cowardly murder of Kajieme Powell.  I know that is strong language and I don't use it lightly. 

Please watch the following cell phone video and ask yourself:  "If this was a white young man would the police have backed off, used tasers or simply shut their squad door rather than execute a mentally ill young man of color?"  Further ask yourself "why would the officers handcuff a dead body?"








May God Bless and give strength to the families of Michael Brown and Kajieme Powell and the numerous other persons of color betrayed and killed by those sworn to protect and serve. 

We need to have a serious discussion in this country over the rules of engagement and use of deadly force by law enforcement.  At a minimum we should have a minimum age of thirty years of age to be a law enforcement officer entrusted with the discretion to use deadly force so they have some life experience with which they can make reason of a situation without being so quick to escalate to lethal force.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Billionaire Stanley Hubbard Gives Neanderthals A Bad Name While His News Station KSTP Is Laughing Stock Of the Industry



Billionaire bigot (or at a minimum, tone deaf and insensitive) Stanley Hubbard went on Minnesota Public Radio last Friday to defend the indefensible, his lame station's shoddy journalism covering a nonevent and being used as a pawn in the Minneapolis Police Union's war on Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.  See and listen:   http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/11/14/hubbard

Note that Hubbard blatantly lies in the interview repeatedly stating that they just reported the news as reported to them by multiple law enforcement agencies.  Absolutely false.  The two people quoted in the story are John Delmonico, the person who brought the matter to the attention of KSTP.  Delmonico, although a Minneapolis police officer, was acting in his capacity as President of the Minneapolis Police Union.  A police union is not a law enforcement agency.

Most crucial from a journalistic standpoint, the mayor and the police union are at war because the mayor had the audacity to concede in an open letter to the community that in the past, actions of some officers were such that did not always engender trust in communities, namely minorities and communities of color. Hardly an earth shattering revelation but enough for the police union to start a propaganda campaign against the mayor.  It was in this environment and context that Delmonico handed the story to KSTP.  This should have set off alarm bells at any competent newsroom.

But Hubbard was emphatic that they were told the ridiculous conclusion that the mayor was throwing down gang signs from multiple law enforcement agencies.  As far as I can tell from their reporting, KSTP's only other form of corroboration came  from a so called expert, a retired cop, from that denizen of street gang activity Omaha, Nebraska.  Hardly what one would call a law enforcement agency.

But Hubbard, in a fit on anger, during his interview with Minnesota Public Radio, showed his true colors with his "I am not a racist I have a black friend" logic by pointing out his news station was the first in Minnesota to have a black anchor.  I guess in Stanley Hubbard's world that gives him and his station the right to suspend all notions of credible, good journalism and make fools of themselves.  To this I can only remind Mr. Hubbard that all plantations had its slaves or put another way even billionaires make mistakes and when they do, have the good sense and humility to admit it.

 But don't take my word on it, watch how Jon Stewart dealt with the topic last week on the Daily Show