Restoring humanity warrants a different response

Warrant Forgiveness Day is this Saturday, May 20th, 10am-4pm, info here and here.

On Mother's Day, Black Lives Matter organizers across the nation bailed out hundreds of mothers who had been held in jail, separated from their children, while awaiting trial on various low-level charges. In addition to benefitting the families directly involved, this action highlighted racial and economic disparities in our judicial system. In Minnesota, activists are also embracing a two-pronged approach of providing immediate practical assistance to people caught in the system, while pushing for structural changes in state and county laws and policies.

A recent ACLU study established that black and Native American people in Minneapolis were 8-9 times more likely to be arrested for alleged low-level offenses than whites. Subsequently, all Minneapolis police officers were required to complete implicit bias training, which is a useful initial step. Hiring more officers who live within the city and wh…

Lie #3: DNA proves Clark grabbed gun


Lie #2: The officers followed MPD policies


Lie #1: The investigations were thorough


No justice from MPD investigation

MPD tries to close the book on the Jamar Clark killing, but their misleading Internal Affairs report cannot hide policy violations
By Rachel Wannarka and Jason Sole (with editing assistance from Brendan Miller)

Image of Chief Harteau and Mayor Hodges from press conference October 21, 2016

On Friday, Minneapolis police Chief Janeé Harteau (alongside Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges)announced the results of the MPD Internal Affairs investigation into the actions of officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg in the case of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man shot in the head on November 2015. It is perhaps not surprising that the police cleared themselves of any wrongdoing – though we had hoped for progress, this was business as usual. But it is jarring that their Internal Affairs overview and statements by Chief Harteau include misleading claims about the events surrounding the unnecessary and tragic police killing of Jamar Clark.

We have previouslydocumented the numerous policy violations in this case.…

Joint Hennepin/Ramsey juvenile facility—Our youth deserve better

by Jason Sole and Rachel Wannarka, Minneapolis NAACP

As we are demanding accountability of law enforcement officials, it is just as critical to demand accountability of the professionals who are tasked with helping youth transition into adulthood. Community members are meeting tonight for a “community engagement session” at the Minneapolis Urban League to discuss just that. Ramsey and Hennepin counties contend that it is in the best interest of youth to spend millions of dollars to build a new secure juvenile facility, but many community members believe that it will be just another prison. It is extremely difficult to believe that with all of the negative publicity Minnesota facilities have received, that another secure placement center is in the best interests of the counties. What happened to the juveniles that went to Mesabi Academy for treatment but were sexually abused? What happened to the youth sexually assaulted by a Boys Totem Town therapist in February? Will these youth retu…

The 36-hour hold: Metro law enforcement’s newest scare tactic

This week the Twin Cities saw a disturbing escalation in tactics used by law enforcement against protesters. It has been common practice for protesters who were arrested (often on charges that later failed to hold up in court) to be processed and quickly released, but we are now seeing specific activists explicitly targeted by police and detained for discretionary 36-hour holds. This is a troubling trend in the way law enforcement interacts with people exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and public protest.

An example of when a 36 hour hold is commonly and properly utilized is felony level domestic violence crimes. The city of Minneapolis provides this information for victims of domestic abuse:
If the offender was arrested for a felony level crime, the person will be booked into the Hennepin County jail. A probable cause hold will be placed on this person. This hold is usually for about 36 to 48 hours depending on the day and time the person was arrested. An investi…