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Monday, July 20, 2009

Fire the Mineapolis Chief of Police

Today I had the honor of preparing and reading the opening statement for our press conference, in the Minneapolis City Hall rotunda, in front of the Father of Waters statue. Three Green Party and three allied candidates participated in the press conference. After I spoke, the candidates spoke in the following order:

Dave Bicking (Green) City Council Ward 9
Al Flowers (DFL) Mayor
Jeanine Estimé (Green) City Council Ward 8
Michael Cavlan (Independent) City Council Ward 8
Andy Exley (Green) City Council Ward 6
Brent Perry (Socialist Action) City Council Ward 12

After the press conference, we walked down the hall for the official candidate filing process.

Below is the text of my statement, followed by city council and CUAPB concerns, followed by a supporting timeline with links to sources.


Monday, July 20, 2009
11:30 am
Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda
350 South Fifth Street

Members of the media, supporters, interested observers:

We welcome you, and thank you for attending this joint announcement by candidates for Minneapolis local offices, mostly city council. This is a multi-partisan event. I’m Tom Cleland, and I serve on the Steering Committee of the Fifth Congressional District Green Party. We are here, united, on a number of issues. One of those issues is police accountability and opposition to the appointment of Timothy Dolan as Chief of Police. Dolan’s term expires January 4, 2010, so this is an important issue before the council. The next council will also decide whether to reappoint for the term which expires three years later.

We hold the current council responsible for appointing Dolan to the term which began three years ago, and we call on our opponents to go on record regarding the possible reappointment of Dolan next year. The Chief of Police sets the tone for the conduct of the department, and we are appalled by what we have seen.

There are many examples of police misconduct we’d like to discuss over the course of the campaign, and today I want to start by talking about the case of Fong Lee, because many people are familiar with it, and because it illustrates the problem on multiple levels, from the police officer, to the police chief, to the city council. Fong Lee was shot and killed July 22, 2006, nearly three years ago, by a Minneapolis police officer.

Last month, on June 15, Jason Andersen, the cop who shot Fong Lee, was arrested for domestic assault. Channel 11 reported that the woman involved suffered some injuries. We don’t know what will become of that case, but we do know that in the Fong Lee case, Andersen contradicted his own testimony. As reported on Channel 9 a few months ago, Andersen said Lee, while laying on his back raised the gun up, but later Andersen said the gun fell three feet away. Which is it? Which is it?

Mark Robbins, the Mankato law enforcement expert in the Channel 9 report, thought that Lee’s wounds were consistent with a defensive reaction. Lee had blood in his right palm, and a bullet wound between the third and fourth fingers of the left hand, in a slightly upward direction. His left arm and hand were full of blood.

Anderson got off on May 28, 2009. MPR reported the verdict was announced before Lee's family could get back to the courtroom to hear it in person. Attorney Jim Moore convinced the all-white jury that Andersen believed his life was in danger when he shot Lee 3 times from behind and 5 more times while he was on the ground.

Look at the security video frame by frame. In and around Lee’s hands, sometimes you see shadows, sometimes you see nothing. Moore asserted that the security camera had poor resolution.

If that’s the case, then why did Police Chief Dolan present Andersen with the Medal of Valor? We know the police had the video, according to a StarTribune article three days after the shooting, the same day Dolan allowed Andersen to come back to work. How could Dolan be so sure this cop was a hero? What kind of message does this send to the city, and especially the Hmong community? The medal was awarded July 28, 2008, nearly one year ago, and is documented on the city’s web site.

When the city council appointed Dolan on October 20, 2006, the Fong Lee shooting had already taken place three months earlier, and Dolan had already begun serving as Interim Police Chief six months earlier. They couldn’t have known that Dolan would present Andersen with the Medal of Valor, but they did know that Dolan had returned Andersen to work three days after the shooting, before an internal investigation by the police department could be completed.

In a memo dated September 25, 2006 and reprinted in the StarTribune, three council members shared 8 concerns about Dolan with Mayor R.T. Rybak. One of the concerns was, QUOTE Returning Officer Andersen to the street before the investigation was complete or the community’s concerns had been assuaged. UNQUOTE

In a memo of his own, Rybak replied, QUOTE With regard to keeping an officer on administrative leave until an investigation is complete, I believe the Chief of Police must retain discretion to make decisions on all discipline issues. UNQUOTE

Well, if the mayor wants to grant discretion to the Chief, then he has to take responsibility for what the Chief does. And the City Council has to take responsibility for going along with the mayor. Because they all voted to appoint Dolan, all except Remington.

This is how a killer cop gets put back out on the streets.

Chapter 6, Section 1 of the City Code Charter states that the mayor QUOTE may make all needful rules and regulations for the efficiency and discipline UNQUOTE of the city police force. If there are loopholes that disrupt accountability in city government, then they need to be fixed. What we have now has all the appearances of a wink and a nod to police thuggery.

The council should have known better. In their October 7 newsletter, Communities United Against Police Brutality, CUAPB, listed 7 warnings about Dolan, including his involvement in awarding an earlier Medal of Valor, to Dan May, as reported in City Pages in January 2006. Dan May is the cop who shot Tycel Nelson in the back in 1990.

The council also heard testimony from Dave Bicking, currently running for Ward 9, who said, QUOTE Dolan represents the status quo for the Minneapolis Police Department, and the status quo is simply not acceptable…There is case after case of police brutality with no discipline of those involved… The taxpayer is forced to step up and take responsibility, in the form of millions of dollars of lawsuit settlements… YOU have the power to approve the new police chief. And you can insist of any candidate for the position that he or she commit to issuing discipline in sustained cases from the CRA [Civilian Review Authority]… Acting Chief Dolan has shown by his record that he opposes this, and…has stated that he feels the need to exercise his own judgement in these cases… USE your authority, and use it wisely, to reject this nomination. If you do not, you too have taken responsibility for what happens during the next three years of Chief Dolan’s tenure. UNQUOTE Bicking warned that Dolan would not make himself accountable to the Civilian Review Authority.

According to CUAPB, Rybak nominated Dolan with a virtually non-existent selection process and no opportunity for input from the community. A month later, the city council rubber-stamped the mayor’s decision, and they deserve to be replaced. There’s much more to say, and I will leave that to others. Thank you.


In a memo dated September 25, 2006 and reprinted in the StarTribune, three council members (Glidden, Gordon, and Hodges) shared 8 concerns about Dolan with Mayor R.T. Rybak.

1. Incorrect data sent to the FBI resulting in a public black eye for the City
2. Failure to communicate with community groups prior to rollout of SAFE CITY initiative
3. Returning Officer Andersen to the street before the investigation was complete or the community’s concerns had been assuaged
4. Poor communication and process regarding cameras at Cedar-Riverside
5. Gave misleading information to Council Members regarding Dr. Campion as a consultant for the City
6. Defensiveness rather than action regarding redlining
7. Support for the “alley ordinance” ahead of Council action
8. Inadequate progress on CRA complaint backlog and refusal to discipline many sustained cases

Source: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/717439.html
Rybak’s reply: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/717446.html


In their October 7 newsletter, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) listed 7 concerns about Dolan:

1. Dolan was in charge of the 4th precinct during the Terrell Oliver and Julius Powell shootings--which sparked the uprising that led to federal mediation and a class-action lawsuit against the city.
2. Dolan flat refuses to implement the terms of the federal mediation agreement. After the city's police psychologist (who conducts psychological screenings of candidates) was outed as a racist and homophobe, the PCRC demanded he be fired and the city agreed. Dolan claims to have had a private conversation with him, after which he was put him back into the same job where he blocked perfectly good candidates and contributed to decreased diversity in the department.
3. Dolan has played a key role in the practice of not disciplining sustained Civilian Review Authority complaints, leaving the community no recourse against brutal cops.
4. Dolan dismisses sustained Internal Affairs cases. In one case, officers were caught on tape kicking out the teeth of a handcuffed man. Internal Affairs recommended the officers be fired but Dolan overrode the recommendation and dismissed the case.
5. Dolan was complicit in giving a medal to killer cop Dan May for shooting unarmed teenager Tycel Nelson in the back, even posing with May for pictures after the awards ceremony.
6. Under Dolan, Jason King and Lawrence Loonsfoot--cops who have been involved in other outrageous police brutality incidents and shootings-gunned down unarmed, mentally disturbed Dominic Felder after his family called seeking help. Both of these killer cops are back on the street, thanks to Dolan.
7. The police chief is supposed to live in the city but Dolan doesn't think Minneapolis is good enough for him. Rybak is giving him special dispensation to continue to live in Edina.

Source: http://www.charityadvantage.com/CUAPB/100706Newsletter.asp


12/1/1990: Tycel Nelson is shot by Dan May in the back six times as he fled police, who later claimed he had been armed. Witnesses state he was unarmed and the gun found on the scene had no fingerprints on it.

11/1/2000: Police claim Alfred Charles “Abuka” Sanders was driving erratically so they boxed his car into an alleyway near his home and opened fire, shooting at least 35 times. He was unarmed.

8/1/2002: According to CUAPB: Martha Donald is shot in mysterious circumstances in the restroom in the lobby of her apartment complex. Two police officers were in the restroom with her and one, Melissa Schmidt, was also killed in the incident. Police have alleged that Ms. Donald had a 38-caliber gun hidden in her buttocks, despite the fact that she was wearing tight pants and that they had searched her. Community members are doubtful of this explanation.

8/6/2002: CM Natalie Johnson Lee writes to constituents, “On this day of mourning, we pause to reflect on the untimely deaths of two fellow citizens.”

8/7/2002: The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis chastises Johnson Lee for suggesting that Schmidt and Donald were “equally deserving of our grief.”

8/22/2002?? : Terrell Oliver was shot 6 times in the back as he was jumping a fence while running from police. This happened in broad daylight (about 3:30 p.m.) in front of many witnesses. Dolan was commander of the 4th precinct (North Minneapolis) at the time. According to Michelle Gross, “Right after the shooting, cops told people in the neighborhood ‘you got one of ours, now we got one of yours’ (though, much to the cops’ chagrin, Oliver didn't actually die). I was in the neighborhood immediately after the incident and personally witnessed cops terrorizing the community--running around aiming guns at people, zooming all over the neighborhood calling people names out of their squad car windows.”
Source: Michelle Gross, CUAPB

8/27/2002?? : A rally is held in defense of Johnson Lee, and a coalition established to bring about federal mediation.

8/29/2002?? : 4th precinct cops shoot Julius Powell. This leads to a major uprising on the Northside. The coalition asks a federal mediator to visit. Dolan was commander of the 4th precinct (North Minneapolis) at the time.
Source: Michelle Gross, CUAPB

2003: The Police Community Relations Council is formed as a result of federal mediation.

10/14/2005: City Pages reports that “MPD's federal mediation agreement has failed.” MPD Lt. Medaria Arradondo, a negotiator skilled in bringing both sides together, is removed from the talks. Mark Anderson, a “mental health” community rep on the PCRC, states that R.T. Rybak has “been disengaged from the whole process” and that after the PCRC wrote him that mediation was going nowhere, “We didn't hear back for two months.”

1/12/2006: Dan May receives Medal of Valor for shooting Tycel Nelson.

1/19/2006: Dan May returns Medal of Valor.

1/25/2006: City Pages reports that MPD awards committee coordinator Lieutenant Richard Thomas did not recall Dolan raising any concerns with him about the Medal of Valor awarded to Dan May. City Pages also reports that Police Community Relations Council member Ron Edwards and others believed Dolan was complicit in giving the award, even going so far as to pose for photographs with May at the Fifth Precinct.

4/15/2006: Timothy Dolan is appointed Interim Police Chief.

7/22/2006: Officer Jason Andersen shoots Fong Lee.

7/25/2006: Dolan allows Andersen to come back to work. Police say they have some video.
Frame by frame: http://tomstream.blogspot.com/2009/06/fong-lee-close-ups.html

8/2006: Dolan suspends police psychologist Dr. Michael Campion.

9/21/2006: Dominic Felder was suffering from mental illness when his family called 911 for help. Officers Lawrence Loonsfoot and Jason King arrived. Rather than taking him in for mental health care, they chased Dominic and—according to witnesses—opened fire on him as they caught up to him. He was shot 7 times in front of numerous family members and other witnesses. He was unarmed.

9/25/2006: Glidden, Gordon, and Hodges send memo to Rybak listing 8 concerns about Dolan. They also meet in person. The StarTribune updates this story on their web site by 10/2.

9/26/2006: Christian blogosphere believes that Michael Campion, a Christian psychologist, is “re-suspended” from Minneapolis Police on this day, over pro-family group membership.

9/27/2006: Gay blogosphere says that Campion is reinstated.

10/2/2006: Rybak has replied by now, in a memo of his own, saying he gives the chief discretion on disciplinary issues, although the city charter empowers the mayor to make rules regarding discipline.

10/4/2006: City Pages reports that Dolan lifted Campion’s suspension, the rationale being that “Dolan was unable to find evidence that Campion, whatever his personal views, had treated prospective gay officers unfairly.” They report that Campion had published an article about curing homosexuality through Christian love.

10/7/2006: CUAPB newsletter states that Rybak has nominated Dolan with “a virtually non-existent selection process with no opportunity for input from the community.” They list 7 warnings about Dolan, including his involvement in awarding an earlier Medal of Valor, to Dan May, as reported in City Pages (See 1/25/2006).

10/9/2006: CM Gordon holds a meeting to get public input.

10/10/2006: CUAPB Rally against Dolan. Gordon accepts letter from CUAPB. Remington acknowledges the group. At Mayor’s office, subordinate Sherman Patterson said they should have called for an appointment and offered to schedule one for 10/25.

10/11/2006: City Council Executive Committee votes to move Dolan appointment forward. SWAT team is at City Hall and Rybak enters the council chambers with an armed guard.

10/11/2006: Dolan answered questions from CM Gordon. “ ‘I’m going to have discretion I'll use on discipline--I want that,’ Dolan said Wednesday, adding that the mayor, council or CRA will not dictate his decisions. ‘I owe that to the officers and the community, but I also owe it to myself ethically.’ ”

10/18/2006: City Council Public Hearing: Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee (PS&RS). CUAPB calls this “way too late to do any good.”

10/18/2006? : Dave Bicking testifies before the city council, warning that Dolan will not make himself accountable to the Civilian Review Authority.

10/20/2006: The City Council votes to approve Dolan as Chief of Police.

11/2/2006: CUAPB reports that the MPD has already put the Felder case on hold.

7/28/2008: Dolan presents Andersen with Medal of Valor.

12/9/2008: Quincy Smith was a former DJ with KMOJ Radio in North Minneapolis, and died shortly after being tased by Minneapolis police during a confrontation on Knox Avenue on the north side. “He is at least the 20th person killed by police in Minnesota this year,” according to Twin Cities Indymedia.

4/10/2009: The city of Minneapolis agrees to pay five high-ranking black officers $740,000 to settle a lawsuit they filed in 2007, alleging racial discrimination and a hostile working environment.

5/4/2009? : Channel 9 (KMSP/FOX TV) reports Jason Anderson’s contradictory testimony. Andersen said Lee, while laying on his back raised the gun up, but later Andersen said the gun fell three feet away. They also report that Mark Robbins, the Mankato law enforcement expert in the Channel 9 report, thought that Lee’s wounds were consistent with a defensive reaction.

5/28/2009: Jason Andersen is acquitted. Attorney Jim Moore asserts the security camera had poor resolution.

6/15/2009: Jason Andersen is arrested for domestic assault.

7/29/2009: Michelle Gross of CUAPB reports that, according to Ken Brown with the Mpls Civil Rights Commission, “we're sitting at over $6 million in settlements and judgements paid out for police actions in the last 4 years.”
Source: Michelle Gross, CUAPB

1/4/2010: Dolan’s term expires.


At Fri Jul 24, 03:17:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Thank you, Minneapolis Mirror! Video of the press conference is at http://www.mplsmirror.com/joomla3/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=393:standing-in-unity-for-mpd-reform&catid=34:local-news&Itemid=103!

At Mon Dec 28, 05:44:00 AM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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