The meeting was called to order at 6:07 by Chair Larry Ranallo with 20 attenders.
Our speakers this month were Velma Korbel, Director of the Minneapolis Dept. of Civil Rights, and Kristin Johnson, Investigator in the Complaint Investigations Division of the Dept. As the City is expanding services to residents, it is also expanding the means residents have to request these services. Our well known and heavily used 311 contact is now a means of reporting hate crimes and discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and other, and these crimes may be reported by targets or by witnesses.
Ms. Korbel related that the “Hate Crimes Hotline” is an extension of the 311 line service, which was launched with limited services and hours in 2003, but has been expanding ever since. People in Minneapolis dial 311 for direct access while people who are outside the city proper or who can’t use that line for any reason (TTY callers, for example) can call 612.673.3000.
While there has always been some level of hate crime in Minneapolis, authorities have noticed an increase starting in Sept and October of 2016 when the political race fueled a lot of talk about building a wall, deporting people, and other divisive issues. There was a further rise when U.S. borders were closed to some people. As controversy became more heated, some cities took a stand declaring themselves “inclusive” and separating law enforcement activity from immigration and customs enforcement activity through use of non-cooperation clauses. Cities enforcing non-cooperation between their police forces and immigration officials include Seattle, NYC, Albuquerque, and more. Minneapolis is part of this movement.
The Civil Rights Department of Minneapolis, the St. Paul Department of Human Rights, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and the FBI joined forces to coordinate the programs and outreach services offered by each agency. There was a need for one number to call where reports would be screened to determine what department or service would best meet the immediate concern; 311 was an obvious resource. 311 is also a way for service providers to gather information about hate and bias crimes. Resources were added to the Department’s budget to coordinate the City’s response and handle information regarding hate crimes and discrimination, and to work with community and enforcement partners. Kristin leads this work in the Department.
People needed to know this expanded service exists so one of the first things they developed was a simple poster, Go to http://www.minneapolismn.gov/civilrights/index.htm and scroll past “HATE CRIMES HOTLINE” to see a printable PDF. Updates to the page making the information more accessible are pending.
QUESTION: Does hate speech = a hate crime?
Korbel: No, speech is protected by the First Amendment. There is hateful speech, but no agreed-upon definition. There is confusion because last year’s political speech often mentioned “hate speech” which put that in people’s minds but the fact is, there is no definition of hate speech. We welcome discourse of any kind, but while we may not like it, we can’t stop it.
QUESTION: 311 operators, including the supervisor seem confused about hate crimes.
Korbel: If you called the 311 operators, not to report a crime but to ask about hate speech, you need to remember 311 operators are NOT there to explain things, define terms, or to speak directly about a caller’s concerns. Their job is limited to forwarding calls to the appropriate service center where staff trained in the caller’s issues are waiting to listen to and to evaluate a callers concerns and to begin working with and for the caller. 311’s job begins with receiving your call and ends when the operator has forwarded your call.
QUESTION: There is a question of context. Speech at work can create an atmosphere that interrupts your ability to work.
Korbel: Most work places have policies in place that outline what is and isn’t permitted in the work place and how violations will be handled. Managers should be trained to handle these issues. Issues and events in one place may be handled very differently from a similar situation at a different organization.
Board member Dorothy Bode reminded people that the Minneapolis Public Schools is a separate jurisdiction and has its own hotline.
QUESTION [ASKED AFTER THE MEETING: SO IF YOU ARE NOT GETTING A SATISFACTORY RESPONSE FROM e.g. YOUR OFFICE HR OR THE SCHOOL’S HOTLINE RESPONSE, ARE YOU BARRED FROM USING THE CITY SERVICE OR ENCOURAGED TO USE IT?]
Johnson: You may always contact the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), St. Paul Department of Human Rights, or Minnesota Department of Human Rights to report unlawful discrimination, including a hostile working environment. A hostile work environment may be created through the harassment of an individual based on a protected characteristic (as defined in the Mpls Civil Rights Ordinance, Section 139.40(b)) that negatively affects that employee’s performance or job opportunities and is known by and not prevented or corrected by the employer. This is an example of an instance where one individual’s expressions of prejudice toward another individual may be unlawful, when the same exchanges on a public street may constitute protected speech.
Johnson: Minneapolis ordinance bans discrimination based on “race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, including sexual harassment, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, marital status, or status with regard to public assistance or familial status.” Property damage, assault, and stalking are crimes per state law, no matter what the motive, but if bias (discrimination) is determined to have been a motive of a crime, that judgment will give the complaint an enhanced status. For example, if a person commits an assault, that is a crime. If, during the assault they call someone a name (based on race, gender, etc.) the sentence for that crime may be increased on that basis.
Data collection so far suggests that many episodes are based on race issues. Data also suggest that many incidents are under-reported. Data collection does show context which may figure in later outreach programs. With regard to most speech questions received to date, one example is that you may still paint a Swastika on your own property, but you may still not paint one on someone else’s property without their permission or on public property.
Johnson: some complaints may be sent to the MN Dept of Human Rights or other agencies, depending on the type of crime and the location. The Mpls Civil Rights personnel will always look at it first.
The Dept of Civil Rights is developing relationships with other resources to better respond to complaints. It’s a work in progress. Please call Kristin at 612 673 2087 with any questions about the hotline or the implicated laws.
WHAT OFFICES CAN HELP AN INDIVIDUAL FILE A COMPLAINT?
In Minneapolis: Minneapolis Dept. of Civil Rights, (612) 673-3012.
In St. Paul, St. Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, (651) 266-8966.
Elsewhere in the state, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, (651) 296-5663.
STATE OF THE PRECINCT: Inspector Loining reported that violent crime in the 2nd Precinct is down by 7.6% led by Robbery, down 32.47% from 77 incidents in 2016 to 52 in YTD in 2017. Criminal Sexual Conduct is up from 29 to 31 incidents in the same period and Aggravated Assault if up from 64 to 75 incidents in the same period.
Burglary is down by 11.29% but auto theft is up by over 39%.
Current “Hot Crime Issues” in the 2nd Precinct are 1) reducing violent crimes by monitoring reports to determine focus zones for increased patrol, 2) reducing theft from motor vehicles by reminding folks to remove valuables from their cars or at least keep them locked in the trunk, 3) auto theft, alerting owners to the danger of warming up vehicles in the winter and to reduce theft of mopeds by securing light two wheelers with locks and chains, and 4) to reduce burglary of garages by reminding folks to lock their garages. Officers will leave a hang tag on obviously unsecured garages which offers help and outlines the reasons to lock up.
Successful policing reports including two July 6 search warrants in NE Mpls,which uncovered one marijuana growing operation (one party booked) and a recovery of a shotgun and almost $10,000. The Property Crimes Unit has been assigned 189 cases for investigation so far in 2017. Of these, 144 have led to a charge.
The Second Precinct has gained 5 new officers. All will be on foot beats for the next six months (standard procedure): 2 on East Hennepin and 3 in the Stadium Village area which includes the light rail station. Other personnel changes: Sgt. Beth Mota has transferred to the Juvenile Unit. Sgt. Chris Patino has joined 2nd Pct Property Crimes, and Sgt. Darin Waletzki is now in the 2nd Pct
COURTWATCH: Sarah Becker, City Atty. and Judi Cole Hennepin Cty Atty.: Cody Corbin failed to appear on 7/5 and a bench warrant was issued; he is free on $5000 bond and his next court date is 8/2. Jason Enrico had an omnibus hearing scheduled on 7/14. Kevin Foster was convicted on June 5; a stay of imposition was issued and he is on probation until 6.5.2020. Steven Haney is facing 2 narcotics cases; he posted a $100,000 bond on March 1; his house will be in foreclosure at the end of July. Daniel Heacock is now out of custody and waiting for a competency hearing. Paula Heille failed to appear on 5/10 and a bench warrant was issued. Mahad Ismail is now in prison and has a pretrial on July 19. Kenneth Nelson has a 9/19/17 hearing coming up, and one complaint against him has a jury trial date. Sharkina Nickens was convicted of burglaries and is now in prison. Her other complaints have not been resolved. Dae Nisell was convicted on 6/23 for violation of restraining order and was sentenced to the MN Correctional Facility in St. Cloud (18 months stayed 3 years); he is on probation to 6.23.20. Ryan Pilarski has completed probation on June 13. Joshua Poplawski has a pretrial on trespass in the 3rd Pct scheduled for 7/12; probation violation hearing on 7.24. Ashley Sage seems to be meeting her agreement. Robert Schroeder has a July 12 pretrial. Michael Zaccardi has a felony level damage complaint with a 7.21 omnibus hearing.
No updates:Johnny Hall has not yet responded to his February bench warrant. Curtis Laroq remains on probation to 11/4/18 and there have been no updates.
Removed: Canty, Nickens, Moen, Pilarski
Reminders: do you want attorneys to attend your National Night Out? Contact Jean M Heyer (Jean.Heyer@hennepin.us), or go to heep://www.hennepinattorney.org/prevention/community-partnerships/national-night-out
It’s a chance to ask questions you may have been curious about and didn’t know who/how/where to find the answers — plus they’re nice people.
With no New or Old Business, the meeting was adjourned.