Minneapolis mayoral candidate Al Flowers files lawsuit, denies having pot

Minneapolis mayoral candidate Al Flowers filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County on Wednesday, Oct. 7, alleging that authorities set him up when he was recently cited for marijuana possession in conjunction with a search warrant investigation at a Crips gang member's Edina home. He denies having pot, saying that cops on the scene construed it that way, while also stealing property from him and violating his constitutional rights.

In the 11-page complaint, he goes so far as to question the validity of the search warrant, because of the role of a confidential reliable informant (CRI) in the investigation, criticizing them as  "criminals themselves" who often provide bad information. Further, he says the court schedule won't permit him to clear his name before the November election.

Flowers, who is one of 10 people running against Mayor R.T. Rybak, was present when the Hennepin County Violent Offenders Taskforce (VOTF) conducted a surprise search warrant at the Edina home of Crips gang member Brandon Michael Wilson at 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 23, according to the warrant and Hennepin County Sheriff's spokesperson, Lisa Kiava, who said she couldn't comment on pending litigation.

According to the warrant, and the county sheriff's office, Wilson had been selling cocaine and large amounts of marijuana. It also states that he'd been arrested seven times for narcotics violations, mostly crack cocaine, including sale to an undercover officer. Wilson had also been arrested once for a handgun-involved assault, it continues, and four times for domestic assault. A Dakota County complaint separately shows two pending fifth-degree felony drug charges against Wilson.

Wilson was arrested and booked in the Hennepin County jail based on "probable cause" for weapons violations, Kiava said. In Flowers' case, she said that the courts would decide whether to fine him. State statute dictates that the fine could run from $128 to $300, but it fluctuates, Kiava explained, adding that the amount could be less.

As for the circumstances surrounding Flowers being "physically there," when VOTF executed the warrant at the home, she said she didn't have any other details about his relationship with Wilson. "[Flowers] wasn't the target of the search," said Kiava. 

At the home, officers found mailings for Flowers, along with his wallet, ID and an advertisement for him, according to the warrant receipt. (A baggie with marijuana "blunts" was found in the same bedroom as one of the mailings, it states.) Other baggies of marijuana, miscellaneous gang photos, a handgun, digital gram scale, $860 cash and more, was listed.

In his press release and complaint, which names Hennepin County Deputy Erik Fleck, Deputy Matt Lunde, Sergeant Joe Poidinger and five John Does, Flowers claims that officers took from him $240 and a laptop computer, but didn't inventory that. "Law enforcement likely assumed the laptop computer contained campaign information. Law enforcement had no legitimate need for the laptop computer, or the Mayoral campaign information, or the $240," the complaint reads.

He also states that he was ordered to put down his cell phone and that it was later ""found" in a certain room in order to support the implication that he was somehow connected to the marijuana."

Earlier this week, Flowers, who describes himself on his Web site as a community activist, father and small business owner, characterized the event as politically motivated, saying in another press release that "'opponents of change' would use every tactic under the sun to discredit our campaign and silence the many citizens who are demanding more from status quo politicians."

In the press release, Flowers, who wants his property returned and $50,000-plus in damages, says that he's suffered various forms of harassment, including the citation and having his home condemned, because he's "running for Mayor on a platform of truth, and reform of law enforcement and other government."

The Star Tribune recently reported that Flowers paid $468.98 fine on a past-due water bill at the Southwest Minneapolis home he rented, which lifted a city condemnation order. The Star Tribune adds that in 1999, he pleaded guilty to possessing a small amount of marijuana.

His attorney is Jill Clark, who has represented him in other lawsuits, including against the city of Minneapolis and Councilman Don Samuels, as the Minnesota Independent mentions. Calling these latest actions a smear campaign, he states, "with over 60 percent of us having some sort of trumped up charges filed against us by the police during our lifetimes, none of us would be able to enter the home of any friend or family member for fear of having some guilt-by-association accusation hurled at us by the police and drive-by media."

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    Anna Pratt's picture
    Anna Pratt

    Anna Pratt (email annaprattjournalist [at] gmail [dot] com) is a freelance journalist living and working in Minneapolis.

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    SW drug task force

    I too was a victim of the sw drug task force. Officer Joe Poidinger and his crew of worthless detectives raided my house several years back on false accusations. Because of a "Informant" who was actually more of a criminal than myself, They were told i was dealing large quantities of drugs by this informant, which was false. The informant who gave them my name was actually caught with a large amount of LSD and was let off for his crimes based on false information he gave the task force. This drug task force is costing us millions of dollars every year and they are putting inocent people in jail. My house was raided on my Birthday, I woke up to guns in my face because I possesed a small amount of medicinal marajuana. I was arrested and taken to police station, but never told what I was charged with. They let me go within the the hour and all they ended up charging me with was stolen property because i had some old no parking signs from a garage sale. These detectives are overstepping their boundaries and violating peoples rights. Everything was taken from my home from photographs to my computer and I was never able to get most of it back. Because of the stigma it put on me I was forced to move from my home and community. I just want people to realize what these so called "detectives" are realy doing. Their waisting are tax payer money and there putting inocent people in jail.