St. Paul Tyranny
Posted in the Minnesota Forum
Saint Paul, MN
#1 Jul 22, 2013
In 2006, a hearing-impaired man was pepper-sprayed, dragged out his car and beaten by a police officer after requesting written communication with the officer.(Citation 1)
In 2008, armed groups of police raided more than half-a-dozen private homes in a series of "preemptive raids" before a presidential nominating convention. Police illegally seized literature and educational materials such as pamphlets and other constitutionally-protected forms of free speech from peaceful activists, journalists, and other innocent civilians.(Citation 2)
In 2009, an elite multi-jurisdiction law enforcement unit, named Metro Gang Strike Force, was shut down after numerous complaints that GSF officers broke through peoples doors without justification, seized property without authorization, and injured citizens who were not suspects.(Citation 3)
In 2010, police raided a home to search for cocaine in a home occupied by a disabled African American woman and her son. According to a local news report, when the son tried to explain that his mother had physical problems, police kicked him in the head and caused his face to smash the floor, breaking his nose and cutting his face. Officers then threw a flash-bang grenade at [the disabled mother], causing her to catch fire and suffer third-degree burns on her thighs and the bottoms of her feet. The police found no cocaine in the search.(Citation 4)
In 2011, a woman was taken to the ER and administered more than 300 stitches after she reported a police officer threw her through a glass door and then falsely claimed she caused her own injuries by tripping.(Citation 5)
For those who love pop quizzes, heres one for you. Did the aforementioned incidents occur in A. Moscow, Russian Federation; B. former Soviet Union republic, Lithuania; or C. Saint Paul, Minnesota, the most livable city in America? If you answered A or B, then you might want to start reading other sections of the local newspaper besides the sports and funny pages.
As unbelievable and disturbing as it may sound, all of these incidents alleging police brutality, illegitimate use of force, and abuse of power against persons with disabilities, people of color, journalists, peaceful activists and defenseless citizens were solely or jointly perpetrated by the Saint Paul Police Department under the leadership of Mayor Chris Coleman.
Although the city of St. Paul has denied wrongdoing in most, if not all, of the five cases of alleged police misconduct, the St. Paul City Council approved settling each lawsuit with awards ranging from $93,450 to $400,000. Settling just these five tip-of-the-iceberg cases has cost taxpayers about $1.8 million since Mayor Coleman came into office. During the same time period, Mayor Coleman justified increasing the city's property tax levy by an average of 7% per year to - among a number of things- cover the escalating costs of the police department.
Considering the negative moral, legal, economic and tremendous social implications, outcomes, and reputational damage associated with violating citizens human, civil and constitutional rights, one might think Mayor Coleman and the St. Paul City Council would take decisive action to reform the police department to restore confidence in our local law enforcement and deter future misconduct by those who are commissioned to protect and serve the public. But after several years of leadership inertia, any hope for serious reform seems illusory.
Saint Paul, MN
#2 Jul 22, 2013
St. Paul Tyranny (Continued)
While the community has continually demanded reform of internal police policies, practices, and training, as well as greater oversight, none appear forthcoming perhaps because a majority of the City Council members and the mayor are politically allied with the Saint Paul Police Federation.
According to the SPPF website, the SPPDs labor union has publicly endorsed and used its Political Awareness Fund to support the campaigns of Chris Coleman and the following Saint Paul City Council Members: Dan Bostrom, Amy Brendmoen, Chris Tolbert, and Council President, Kathy Lantry.
The potential conflict of interest arising from the St. Paul City Councils cozy political connection with the SPPDs union should be questioned with serious ethical concerns. For example, the city council members duty to ensure public safety by setting high standards for police conduct, and enforce them with strong disciplinary policies, is arguably in conflict with their personal political interest to appease the SPPD union by not holding police union members accountable when all evidence clearly point to misconduct.
Furthermore, union-endorsed council members are politically obliged to tolerate lax enforcement of internal policies, and not take a harder stance against a small percentage of rogue officers, sergeants, and commanders who use or tolerate excessive force, violate civil liberties and rights, break laws that damage the police departments credibility, and cost the taxpayers millions in city council-approved settlements.
It should be self-evident whose interests the city elected officials serve by observing the rising lawsuit awards that reflect an out-of-control and unchecked police power in St. Paul, and a passive city council. This shouldnt come as a surprise as every member of the Saint Paul City Council, as of April 2013, belonged to the same political party whose labor interests evidently override that of the general public.
The monopolization of the city political structure by one party, and the absence of political balance, has unleashed a beast of tyranny that has manifested in the form of egregious abuses across many city government departments, mostly notably in the Department of Safety & Inspections, and Police Department. This in turn has resulted in a host of costly lawsuits, waste of public resources, and missed economic opportunities.
Since the market price of hiring a private attorney is upwards of $400 per hour, many victims of the system such as the underclass, simply cannot afford to assert their legal rights under a tyrannical government that increases tax burdens by 7% per year, and uses part of the funds to disproportionately abuse and oppress minority groups, while never admitting any wrongdoing.
Citation 1: Gottfried, Mara. "Deaf motorist who got $93K from St. Paul hopes police learn from arrest incident." TwinCities.com -Pioneer Press 05/09/2013: 2. Internet.
Citation 2: ACLU. "ACLU Sues St. Paul and Minneapolis For Release Of Educational Materials Seized During Raids." 09/04/2008: 1. Internet.
Citation 3: Furst, Randy. "Victims of Metro Gang Strike Force awarded $840,000." Star Tribune 07/23/2012: 2. Internet.
Citation 4: Olson, Rochelle."St. Paul prepares to settle police brutality case for $400,000." Startribune 11/7/2012: 1. Internet.
Citation 5: Olson, Rochelle. "St. Paul to pay $270,000 in a police brutality case." StarTribune 03/07/2011: 1. Internet.
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