No. 83, Aug. 17-23, 2000

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Minneapolis city council questions police raid

By Cully Gallagher

The 10 pm news on Monday, July 24, featured stories of a peaceful genetics protest that turned violent that day. In one house full of activists, the TV news was quickly followed by a police raid that turned violent that night. Of the twelve people arrested, several claim officers kicked them as they followed police orders to lie down. One faces felony drug charges and a likely scar from a police officer’s boot.

Circumstances surrounding the purported drug raid raise the question of whether Minneapolis authorities acted to punish protest organizers. At least one city council member says the raid appeared politically motivated.

Lawyer Jordan Kushner took the photo at right of Robert Czernick, or “Tumbleweed,” in jail Tuesday, July 25, the day after the Sister’s Camelot raid. Czernik says police kicked him as he was trying to get down on the floor as ordered; police say he disobeyed and was injured when they forced him back down.

“A number of us are concerned about the raid on Sister’s Camelot,” City Council Member Jim Niland said after a recent briefing by Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson. “It seems like it was very much targeted because of their affiliation with the protest.”

The Monday night raid was on the South Minneapolis headquarters for Sister’s Camelot, an organization that distributes free organic food in low-income neighborhoods. Its members helped organize protests against the International Society of Animal Genetics conference.

Resident and group member Robert Czernik, who goes by “Tumbleweed,” was the most severely injured. He says officers, some of them masked, burst into the house shouting, “Search warrant! Get on the floor!” Czernik claims that as he was lowering himself to the floor, an officer kicked him twice in the eye. One officer asked if he was Tumbleweed, then demanded his real name. When Czernik was, as he admits, “a bit of a smart-ass,” the officer “put two fingers around my throat, trying to choke me until I gave him my real name.”

Police took him to Hennepin County Medical Center to clean blood from his face before booking him, Cezernik says, but refused him medical treatment beyond an Advil.

Chief Olson told council members during last Friday’s briefing that Czernik was injured as he was “forcibly put back on the ground” by officers after he got up, disobeying their orders. He also said police took Czernik to HCMC for medical attention “against his protests.”

Sister’s Camelot members say that, during the search, officers ripped up protest banners and blindfolded those being arrested to protect undercover officers’ identities. Police confiscated a small amount of marijuana, hallucinogens, and paraphernalia. They also confiscated computer hard drives and discs, mailing lists, and activist literature. A bus belonging to the Coldwater Cafe, a mobile kitchen used to prepare food for demonstrators, was towed away for being “used in crime,” according to the police report. The bus has been returned.

Czernik is charged with felony drug possession. Eight others were charged with keeping a disorderly house—misdemeanor charges that were dismissed a week later. Three others were released with no charges filed.

Czernik says the bust “was under the pretext of a drug raid, but it was overtly political.” He believes police cracked down on Sister’s Camelot because the group helped organize ISAG protests and hosted out-of-town demonstrators.

“I think we were targeted because we were visibly organizing.”

The Sister’s Camelot house is in Council Member Lisa McDonald’s ward. She expressed surprise over the raid and its reported severity, and says, in her experience, “they’re kind of a bunch of hippies who drive produce around the city in a bus, and the biggest problem I’ve ever had with them is where they park the bus.”

Chief Olson maintains the raid was primarily about drugs, but has said it would be “naive” to suggest that there was no connection between the raid and the protest investigation.

Jeff Borowiak, who helped found Sister’s Camelot and lives in the house, says it was primarily a protest information center. “It was a really simple organizing drive to get the word out.” Borowiak was not at home during the raid. He was already in jail.

That afternoon, Borowiak went downtown to play his French horn while marching with other protesters, but says police wouldn’t let him near the marchers with a “noisemaker.”

He says he then wandered alone to Loring Park, where plain-clothes officers arrested him for unlawful assembly. He says before he identified himself, an officer asked, “Is that Borowiak?”

“They were definitely targeting me because I was an outspoken activist,” claims Borowiak. “They might have arrested me so I wouldn’t be at the house” during the raid. He believes they already knew about the raid, as the search warrant had been issued the previous Friday.

Police spokeswoman Cyndi Montgomery says that, although the arrests were drug-related, police “had information that some of the same people were involved with the protest.” She explains the three-day delay by saying police “didn’t want to exacerbate the ISAG situation,” but that “after the severity of Monday’s activities, we decided it was time to continue this narcotics investigation and execute the search warrant.”

Questionable police raids have accompanied recent protests in other cities. During the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, which Minneapolis authorities closely studied, police raided the headquarters of the activist group Direct Action Network and shut it down for alleged safety code violations. Police used similar justifications when they shut down activist centers during recent protests in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Another question behind Minneapolis’ police response to protests against the International Society of Animal Genetics is how many police—including St. Paul officers—paraded incognito as demonstrators.

Andy Driscoll, a former St. Paul charter commission and human rights commission member, says a St. Paul police sergeant told Driscoll recently that he was in charge of 40 undercover police who “had infiltrated the demonstration crowds at the genetics conference.”

Driscoll says his discussion with his police friend was too brief for him to ask how many of the undercover officers were St. Paul police. It left him wondering something else: “If there were 40 undercover cops, just how many demonstrators were there?” He concedes maybe not all 40 were there at the same time, but with protesters estimated at less than 200 at any one time, plain-clothes police “could have comprised a quarter to a third of the supposed protesters.”

Driscoll also wonders if the mayhem was a “setup” in which police “send in their own people undercover to make sure the situation gets out of hand, so they can claim credit for dispersing the crowd.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson told city council members that undercover cops in the protest march informed commanders that march leaders were telling protesters to throw rocks at police. After that, Olson says he ordered arrests to begin, and things turned violent.

A total of 750 law enforcement officers were assigned to police demonstrations over the six days of the genetics conference, including 400 to 500 Minneapolis police officers. Hennepin and Ramsey counties and the state supplied the rest.

Total cost for equipment and personnel could reach close to $1 million. Source:

President Eisenhower ‘ordered murder’ of Congo leader Lumumba

By Martin Kettle

Forty years after the murder of the Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba, evidence has emerged in Washington that President Dwight Eisenhower directly ordered the CIA to “eliminate” him.

The evidence comes in a previously unpublished 1975 interview with the minute-taker at an August 1960 White House meeting of Eisenhower and his national security advisers on the Congo crisis.

The minute-taker, Robert Johnson, said in the interview that he vividly recalled the president turning to Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, “in the full hearing of all those in attendance, and saying something to the effect that Lumumba should be eliminated.”

Mr Johnson recalled: “There was stunned silence for about 15 seconds and the meeting continued.”

Lumumba, the first prime minister of Congo after its independence from Belgium in June 1960, was forced from office as the country’s civil war deepened and was captured by rivals. He was killed on January 17 1961, becoming one of the key martyrs of the African independence struggle.

No direct quotations were ever recorded at the national security council meetings, and Mr. Johnson only revealed the exchanges in 1975, when he was privately interviewed by staff of the Senate intelligence committee’s post-Watergate inquiry into US covert action.

The committee concluded that the US was not involved in the murder, though it confirmed that the CIA had conspired to kill Lumumba, possibly on Eisenhower’s orders. Recent Belgian parliamentary inquiries into the murder implicated Belgium but failed to come up with a direct US link.

The transcript of Mr. Johnson’s interview has only come to light because it was included in material sent to the US national archives in connection with the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Source: Industrial Workers of the World:

Housing discrimination found in another Chicago suburb

By Adofo Mendez

Chicago, Illinois, Aug. 4— Appointed a year ago to the Elgin City Council, Juan Figueroa is fuming that his city has not been able to overcome its image as a place where housing discrimination against Hispanics is commonplace. In a recent, hard-hitting report, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said its two-month investigation into the home inspection practices in Elgin has produced solid evidence that city inspectors have treated Hispanic property owners more harshly than whites.

The HUD report said that although Hispanics make up only 8 percent of homeowners and occupy about 20 percent of the rental units in Elgin, they received 64 percent of the code violations issued by the local officials during a three-year period ending in 1998.

“When I heard about the report, I was indignant,” Figueroa said. “When this first happened, I thought, ‘Let’s give them time to improve.’ Now I see they’re still trying to treat people differently. That’s obviously a big cause for concern.”

They manner in which home inspectors and police officers approached Hispanics residents was sharply criticized by HUD.

The report said “a great deal of leniency was generally shown to non-Hispanic owners who had been notified of code violations, while properties of Hispanics who had also been so notified were re-inspected quickly, and condemnation notices were placed on the properties if they were still in non-compliance with code.”

On the heels of HUD’s report, the Wheaton, Illinois-based advocacy group HOPE Fair Housing Center added 18 complaints against Elgin officials for similar charges.

“Discrimination is not limited to Elgin by any stretch,” said HOPE executive director Bernard Kleina. “But I think what’s going in Elgin is that abuses are much more blatant. Often discrimination occurs when families are trying to buy a home, but usually once they’re in a home, they don’t experience the harassment that many of our clients experienced in Elgin.”

He said that harassment takes many forms: excessive searches of people’s homes and apartments, and early morning inspections (HUD said one such inspection took place at 5 a.m.). In addition, HUD said city officials were guilty of “inconsistent application of [building] codes.” It cited one example where a white resident was allowed to waive the requirements for how high a ceiling had to be, but a Hispanic who had the same issue with his ceiling was told he could not waive the requirements.

Source:, Inc.

Media study: coverage favors Republicans

By Laura Meckler

Los Angeles, Aug. 13— TV networks have given George W. Bush more favorable coverage than Al Gore, both during the GOP convention and throughout the presidential race, a new analysis finds.

The study, being released Monday by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, examined 72 stories that aired during the Republican National Convention, July 31-Aug. 3, on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news.

It found that 60 percent of people quoted in stories praised Bush’s policies, political skills or personal character, while 80 percent of people quoted criticized Gore.

“This is a man bites dog story for Republicans, who love to hate the media,” said S. Robert Lichter, the center’s president. “For the first time in memory, the GOP presidential nominee is clearly beating the Democrat in the race for good press.”

The study also looked at coverage during the primaries, when both Bush and Gore faced challenges from fellow party members. From Jan. 1 through March 7, when the nominations were sealed, 53 percent of the comments about Bush were positive, compared with 40 percent of comments about Gore, who will be formally nominated by Democrats this week.

Coverage this year is the inverse of 1992 and 1996, when President Clinton received much more positive coverage than his opponents, the center said.

Meanwhile, Republicans are worried the networks will give the Democratic National Convention more TV time this week than they gave the GOP gathering in Philadelphia two weeks ago.

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson wrote to the heads of the news divisions at ABC, NBC and CBS, saying that while he had hoped for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the GOP convention, he realized that was unrealistic.

“A more realistic wish is this,” he wrote, “that based on your commitment to fair and unbiased reporting, you will devote the same amount of time to the Democrats’ convention as you did to ours – but not a minute more.”

Source: Associated Press


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