VOICES | Flawed journalism misses MPD conspiracy against Black officers


The St. Paul Pioneer Press, as the Star Tribune does, engaged in another mugging of journalism with the headline question above its August 13, 2008, front-page story: “Does it take a criminal to catch a crooked cop?” The more accurate question is: When will the White media stop substituting creative writing for fact-checked investigative reporting?

For the first time, we learn the name, Mr. Trump, of the informant the feds used to expose alleged Black corruption in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). That, along with the informant’s birthday, other names he has used (Vallachi was left out), and how long his criminal record actually is (since the early 1990s not 2002), the PiPress got wrong.

But the big “error” is that it was the MPD that initiated the investigation, not the feds. It was the MPD’s attempt to cover up corruption of White cops they were attempting to blame on Black cops, including the officer singled out for this story, Michael Roberts.

Lots of errors are often a sign that stories are being made up. Whether these “errors” were made by the reporter or the officials interviewed, the result is the same: made up. The reporter could have avoided these errors had he taken the time to read the federal indictment handed down July 14, 2008, or took the time to read other public documents, including those of the Department of Corrections. We are sure that by the time Officer Roberts’ trial begins November 3, 2008, this will all be cleared up.

Had the PiPress reporter actually investigated, he’d have discovered the truth about Mr. Trump and Officer Roberts.

In early 2007, during interrogations of Mr. Trump, sources indicate that he identified numerous African American officers as being on his corrupt list for acts including everything from cash payments to women and drugs. The only problem was — and this is contained in federal documents that have been reviewed and referred to before in this column — it was a Black female informant who had identified to federal authorities the criminal activity of White MPD police officers that was then twisted so as to attribute them to innocent Black officers.

But one of the names that never emerged from Trump/Vallachi’s list was that of Officer Mike Roberts. So, why now?

According to documents, in the late spring and early summer of 2007, an informant we’ll simply identify as FW was recruited by Mr. Trump, according to electronic intercepts, to seek out Officer Mike Roberts and attempt to entrap him in a criminal offense. It is this informant who is really the government’s star witness, for it is he who is expected at trial to further enhance the placing of a Black face on White corruption. Will he perjure himself for his law enforcement handlers?

Why, then, does the PiPress leave so much of this information out? After all, it is well known in many circles that the federal authorities did not initiate this investigation, but rather individuals of the city’s VOTF (Violent Offenders Task Force, funded by both federal and state funds) motivated by racial animus and an animus towards White Officer Lt. Michael Keefe, who stood up to their actions toward Black officers.

See our columns of August 29 and September 12, 2007, to see why some observers are coming to understand how devious, sinister and dangerous this cover-up scenario has become.

One name they stay away from is Lt. Michael Keefe. A letter from the Minneapolis city attorney of January 9, 2008, “coincidentally” spells out almost verbatim an allegation against Lt. Keefe that is later used in the grand jury indictment against Officer Mike Roberts. That statement has to do with the leaking of confidential information detrimental in a VOTF-federal investigation.

Remember, when Lt. Keefe reported what he had discovered when he took over as commander of the VOTF unit in early 2007 — the abuse of resources and personnel and mission of the VOTF unit and its attempt to destroy African American police officers in the MPD — he was relieved of his command two days after his courageous act to discuss this with federal authorities who, instead, immediately alerted Chief Tim Dolan.

So, let us be very clear on what is being said here: Officer Mike Roberts was brought into play because of the personal animus against him as a Black, an animus he has fought for 29 some years as an outspoken advocate for Black participation in the MPD. Unfortunately for Officer Roberts, he acquired powerful enemies at court who, by 2007, had decided to do something about this Black problem.

The PiPress story just touches the tip of the iceberg of one of the worst conspiracies to confront federal and local law enforcement officers in the history of Minneapolis. Clearly, the decision was made at the highest possible level in the MPD to make Black police officers an endangered species.

Recent promotions suggesting otherwise do not change this long-term goal. Pay attention, my friends, for your right of access — and your right to know and understand — is being obstructed.
Stay tuned.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com; hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.