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November 9, 2005, Blog #75: Report of the Compliance and Review Committee (CRC) of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) Before the Safety Committee of the City of Minneapolis
Thurgood Marshall, first Black Justice of the Supreme Court, is famous for many statements. A favorite it this: "Lawlessness is lawlessness. Anarchy is anarchy is anarchy. Neither race nor color nor frustration is an excuse for either lawlessness or anarchy."
It was the perception of lawlessness and anarchy on both community and police sides that led to the nine month series of meetings mediated by the federal Department of Justice, that resulted in the forming, in December of 2003, of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC), resulting in the signing of The Agreement between the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the community unity team.
There were 82 points agreed to. The day of the forming of the PCRC was a high mark in the quest for justice in a land of laws. But the City of Minneapolis is not in compliance, as it is not in other areas. My report today will cover just a small portion of this: the failure of the city to comply with agreed upon hiring practices in the matter of new hires for the Minneapolis Police Department.
This should be a joint report. It is not, because the City of Minneapolis has, is, and will continue to sabotage the PCRC, which will eventually bring the Department of Justice to battle for justice again because the City, its Mayor, and its City Council have already made the political calculation of “so what” when it comes to compliance issues and communities of color.
As duly noted above and widely known within these chambers, the City of Minneapolis has a shameful history, in terms of people of color, of ignoring the law and of not being in compliance with both federal and local laws. This Report provides our examination on key points of the city’s non-compliance, with special emphasis on the process of hiring members of protected classes, especially people of color, for positions on the police force.
Please receive this report as part of an ongoing examination of the compliance with The Agreement of December 2003. It is important to restate that The Agreement between the City of Minneapolis, its police department, and the unity community team, was negotiated by the Department of Justice, in the document identified as Memorandum of Agreement.
It will not be necessary to take a long time to report on how the agreement has been violated.
The genesis for that statement is contained in a packet of Emails provided by the Minneapolis Police Department on Thursday, October 20, 2005, at approximately 2:22 p.m. The emails were from Deputy Chief Lucy Gerold to a host of individuals. These emails support the concerns expressed by community members as early as February 2004.
We call your attention to the minutes of the PCRC meeting of March 31, 2004.
As early as March 2004, we recognized that there were ongoing problems on the city side regarding the implementation of the document referred to as “The Agreement.” But it was a year later, in the spring of 2005, that we saw the disastrous results of non-compliance beginning the destruction of the mediation agreement. As elected politicians discussed law and order, crime fighting tactics, and pubic safety, it become quite clear to communities of color that there were no plans whatsoever to guarantee even minimal inclusion of protected class members, specifically people of color, in the compliance areas of The Agreement.
In the meeting of August 22, 2005, it became clear that there was no commitment whatsoever (Parks sat down to stand up) to an action of diversity in the recruitment and hiring of police officers.
Surely the City of Minneapolis needs its own Rosa Parks, or a Joe Parks, to stand up for diversity hiring by sitting down and not moving to the back of the compliance bus.
In July of 2005, Mr. Champa had warned that the recruitment and hiring process as it related to people of color and the Police Department, was going to be a disaster and a failure. In fact, in early September 2005, I personally appeared before this committee and asked for your help in acquiring the Champa report and any other information that was in Mr. Champa’s and the City of Minneapolis possession. I returned a month later, joined by other colleagues, indicating that the information had not been forthcoming, and renewed my request on behalf of the committee, and on behalf of The Agreement. And once again, nothing was forthcoming.
We also appeared before Civil Service Committee. We appealed before the office of the Mayor of the City of Minneapolis directly, through the office of Deputy Mayor David Fey.
In mid-September 2005, in a meeting at Harrison Middle School, we again asked Deputy Mayor David A. Fey for a copy of the report of Mr. Champa.
This is why we quoted Justice Thurgood Marshall:
Lawlessness is lawlessness. Anarchy is anarchy is anarchy. Neither race nor color nor frustration is an excuse for either lawlessness or anarchy.
I trust that the irony is not lost on this august assembly that the lawlessness in question deals with the City itself and its police department.
We take note that the Minneapolis Police department was served notice by us on June 15, 2005, that there was non-compliance on 25 action items that were part of The Agreement. The City of Minneapolis is facing two civil rights complaints filed in the past ten days, wih more civil rights complaints on the way. See attached minutes, June 15, 2005.
Examples of specific areas of concern regarding non-compliance are the following areas lacking compliance:
These are just some of the 25 violations. Of course we now understand why there was no response to our requests for information: it was because there was never any intention to diversify the Minneapolis Police Department.
Recall the adage that the proof is in the pudding. The flavor of the pudding for new hires for the police department is decidedly vanilla. Not that it needs to be chocolate. But we were expecting a swirl of both. That would have reflected compliance.
This took place on the watch of this Council, this Mayor, this Police Department. Such non-compliance must be encouraged, and this council and mayor did the encouraging.
It is quite clear, that, according to the Emails of September 2nd , 2005, that even though chief William McManus gave a direct order NOT to go ahead with an all white list, NOT to make any offers to mostly whites, NOT to sign off on the list that didn’t comply with The Agreement, that he was overridden, countermanded, and reversed by the office of the Mayor.
Just a week ago, in the meeting of the hiring committee, at the 5th Precinct, we were told that the Mayor, acting on the powers invested in him by the City Charter, countermanded the orders of Chief William McManus and circumvented the concerns of a commitment to diversity. It was, for members of the Public Safety Committee, business as usual. The concern was to get more white police officers on the street. Once again, diversity would have to wait; again, as it is always pushed out, hence the plaintive cry of a Met’s fan, “there is always next year.” The difference is that the Mets always had a theoretical chance and did eventually win the World Series. Not so in Minneapolis for people of color: there is not even a theoretical chance of compliance of hiring practices as the anarchy of the City and its departments continues to drive the dynamic of hiring people of color.
This represents business as usual. Their future of inclusion of all communities in the police department is not important to this Mayor and to this Council. In other words, “to hell with The Agreement.”
In closing, our assessment is this, in the famous phrase of Apollo 13: Minneapolis, we have a problem. And the inability of Minneapolis to deal with this very central problem has done irreparable harm and damage to the communities of color and to their opportunity for full inclusion in law enforcement in this city. Be advised that it is our intention to see that this report is delivered as soon as possible to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as we will seek to have the Minneapolis Police Department be examined regarding its compliance with the law and the Agreement. The purpose of our petition to Department of Justice will be to initiate the necessary steps to place this department under Federal Receivership.
Submitted November 9, 2005
By Ron A. Edwards
Chairman, Compliance and Review Committee of the PCRC
Member, Police Community Relations Council
Posted 11-9-2005, 4:25 a.m.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for the columns. Please cite www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for blog entries and solution papers.
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