FREE SPEECH ZONE | How to Dismantle the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority, by Velma Korbel

Act I.Scene: June 2, 2010, City Hall, Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority (CRA) monthly board meeting.Minneapolis Director of Civil Rights attends her first CRA board meeting. She says the Minneapolis CRA is a model of civilian oversight.A portion of the minutes of that meeting:IV. Velma Korbel, Director, Minneapolis Department of Civil RightsBellfield [CRA board chair] introduced Velma Korbel, the newly appointed director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.Korbel stated that although yesterday was her first official day on the job, she has spent the last month getting to know Reid [CRA Manager] and the CRA staff, as well as the Civil Rights Department staff. She explained that she moved to Minnesota in 1989 and has been doing civil rights work since the 1980s. She understands from talking to people in the city and colleagues around the country that the Minneapolis CRA is a model of what civilian oversight is, so she is looking forward to learning from the board, as well as people from the community. She talks to Reid on a daily basis and plans to have the CRA office location combined with the rest of the Department of Civil Rights, so that communication can improve. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Bye-bye to the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority

The Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) is about to be restructured again. Over the years, there have been several CRA restructurings or redesigns. This one is different.This proposal, developed under the euphemistic bureaucratese of “business process improvement (BPI),” has been entirely top down  — no community involvement at all, not even from the current CRA board.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.Last fall, meetings between CRA Manager Lee Reid and Lt. Travis Glampe, head of MPD’s Internal Affairs Unit, were begun under this BPI process. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | We Have To Demand Power Won’t Concede

When abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Power never concedes anything without demand. It never has, never will,” it was the middle of the nineteenth century. He was certainly prescient. Here, in the United States, in the 21st century, the struggle continues. In the following two cases, people had to demand their First Amendment rights, which were violated by over-reaching law enforcement. Continue Reading

Community members of Police Community Relations Council request federal intervention

Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the Honorable Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, by the Unity Community Mediation Team members of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) on April 14. The same letter excepting the last two items of requested actions was also sent to Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Staneck. Dear Attorney General Holder:As the result of a Department of Justice mediation agreement, the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) was formed in the city of Minneapolis for the purpose of improving relations between community members and the Minneapolis Police Department. As an outgrowth of the PCRC, members of the council created the Unity Community Mediation Team as an added entity to seek change within the Minneapolis Police Department and fill the gaps in responsibilities not covered by the PCRC. The PCRC has now disbanded with the clarion call for change by community members remaining unfulfilled, unfunded and nonexistent. Continue Reading

The tears have never stopped for Youa Vang Lee

When the rest of the world watches recently released videos of her son Fong Lee being chased by police, there is growing doubt whether a gun is in the teen’s hand as initially claimed by the police. Many question if Fong deserved to be shot eight times to his death by the police officer whose story continues to be filled with perplexing holes. These videos are at the middle of rumblings in the local media and among community groups charging the possibility of a police conspiracy involving a ‘drop’ gun, cover-ups and corruption.However, when Youa Vang Lee watches these videos, she is filled with strong maternal sentiments. Her heart aches when she sees the last few seconds of her son’s precious life flashing before her eyes. She is filled with emptiness when she sees the fuzzy last images of the boy who will never get to care for the nieces and nephews that he loved and adored. Continue Reading

Who’s lying? Chief Dolan vs. Moss, Metoyer, Flowers, and Edwards

Nou Kai Lee and Youa Vang Lee, the parents of Fong Lee, at vigil following his death. (Photo from Hmong Today)While the Pioneer Press has reported extensively on the affidavits and depositions filed by the Fong Lee family in the lawsuit over the Minneapolis police shooting of Fong Lee in 2006, the Star Tribuneseems to have an inside track with the Minneapolis police department.Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan decided to give the Star Tribune an exclusive interview about the Fong Lee case on Monday, rather than hold an open press conference, according to police spokesperson Jesse Garcia. From that interview, the Star Tribune reported that Dolan said that members of the now-disbanded Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) lied about hearing him say that the police found fingerprints on the gun found near Fong Lee’s body. David Hanners, the Pioneer Press reporter who has been covering the Fong Lee story, said he has requested an interview with Chief Dolan “almost daily,” but so far has not been given an interview.The PCRC was formed five years ago as a result of a federal mandate, Garcia said. The mandate ordered the council to exist for five years, in order to build communication between the police department and the community. Continue Reading