Virtually unnoticed in the cacophony of the Trumpian news cycle, a bill to place more power in the hands of police slithered through the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support – including from such progressive Democratic luminaries as Luis Gutiérrez, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison. The “Serve and Protect Act” (H.R.5698) comes packaged as a necessary measure to protect our brave officers “who put on the badge every day to keep us safe” from the dangers of an imaginary “War on Police.” Specifically, it would impose prison terms of up to ten years for harming or attempting to harm officers of any local, state or federal agencies of what is euphemistically called “law enforcement.” If convicted of carrying out or attempting a kidnapping or killing of an officer, the accused could be imprisoned for life. The Senate version even designates police as an oppressed “protected class” under hate crime laws. The legislation is designed to increase police power in communities of color, strengthen the fortress of police impunity and reinforce the plea-bargain-to-prison conveyor belt. Its targets are anyone the police decide they want to see locked up.
Within the current city charter of Minneapolis, the mayor has “complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department,” including hiring and firing of officers and chiefs. In response to the recent fatal police shooting of Thurman Blevins, several City Council members expressed interest in modifying the charter to give City Council members oversight on the police department, mitigating the power afforded to the mayor and creating another avenue of accountability. “Right now, we have more oversight of our potholes than we do of our police,” Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) said.
A new report indicates that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has encouraged Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to use ketamine to sedate suspects, even in cases when the individual was already restrained and in cases when there was no evidence of any crime committed. The report states that the use of ketamine on those arrested has increased from three usages in 2012 to 67 in 2017. Ketamine is a powerful sedative drug that creates a trance-like state as well as inducing hallucinations and memory loss.
Some constituents in Minnesota have been turning to congressional offices to speed immigration-related processes and services that normally take weeks, such as expediting applications, securing appointments and more. Congressional offices noticed this uptick of communications with immigrants and refugees immediately after the Jan. 2017 U.S. ban of travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.