Minneapolis city council questions
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
“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
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.”
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
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
“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
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
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: www.sirenmedia.net/news_1_20000809.htm
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: Iwwfirstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
Media study: coverage favors
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
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
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