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Families and activists blast St. Paul Police Department’s “Decade of Disgrace”

By staff |
January 16, 2020
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Monique Cullars-Doty, aunt of Marcus Golden.
Monique Cullars-Doty, aunt of Marcus Golden. (KingDemetrius Pendleton)

St. Paul, MN - Saint Paul police were soundly condemned on January 14 for a decade of crimes against families and communities. Monique Cullars-Doty, a community activist, chaired a press conference that highlighted some of these crimes and called on the city council to freeze the Saint Paul Police Department budget until there is an end to these disgraceful acts, along with a guarantee of transparency in the future and justice for victims and their families. She then invited others to speak about their loved ones murdered by police.

January 14 marks five years since her nephew, 24-year-old Marcus Golden, was killed by Saint Paul Police Officers Jeremy Doverspike and Dan Peck. He was unarmed when they shot him in the back of the head, through the window of his parked vehicle. Marcus’ murder came in the middle of a decade of disgrace - where Saint Paul distinguished itself as the deadliest department in Minnesota, and one of the deadliest in the country. The rallying cry #Justice4MarcusGolden has fueled Minnesota’s growing movement for accountability in policing and justice for all lives stolen by police violence.

Cullars-Doty spoke about Marcus Golden and presented a slide show titled “The Saint Paul Police Department: A Decade of Disgrace in Review.” The review included:

-- Several K-9 attacks, including one where the dog ripped the throat from a dying man who’d been shot 16 times by SPPD officers.
-- Several incidents of women being publicly strip-searched by SPPD officers.
-- The case of Sergeant Jeff “Run them over” Rothecker - the disgraced officer who publicly urged violence against protesters who were demanding justice for Marcus Golden and Jamar Clark, instructing people to “run them over” and justify it by claiming they feared for their lives from protesters.
-- Officer Michael Soucheray, who claimed self-defense when he punched a handcuffed suicidal 14-year-old girl in the face two times
-- Sergeant Heather Weyker, who manufactured false evidence, leading to the imprisonment of 30 Somali people, who filed lawsuits seeking a total of $200 million. In addition to false evidence, Wekyer lied in court.
-- Several cases of brutality and wrongful arrest where the city has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
-- 38 people killed at the hands of Saint Paul police, including Marcus Golden.

Matilda Smith remembered sitting down her two sons for a talk when Marcus Golden was murdered, having no idea one of their lives would be taken the following year. Jaffort Smith was killed by SPPD in May 2016. She said of that conversation, “My grandmother used to talk to us. They went through slavery and they used to tell us, ‘Stay in, that’s how we how we live to get to be 100 years old.’ It’s not fair that we have to stay in while everybody else can come out!”

Toshira Garraway Allen spoke about her son’s father, Justin Tiegen, who was beaten to death by the Saint Paul police ten years ago; his body was thrown in a dumpster. Allen described her frustrating interaction with the governor’s “Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters,” convened by state Attorney General Keith Ellison and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. “Keith Ellison has seen the pictures of my son’s father’s body. He’s done nothing. He said to me, ‘What can I help you with?’” said Allen. “’You’re the attorney general of Minnesota, you tell me what you can do! Prosecute. Go in and find out who the officers were, they don’t need to be out here on the street to hurt more of our people.”

Del Shea Perry spoke about her son Hardel Sherrell, who was killed by racist jailers in Beltrami County Jail. She too brought her story to Attorney General Ellison, who has failed to take any action to protect people in this deadly jail.

Trahern Crews, of Black Lives Matter MN and Green Party United States Reparations Working Group, criticized Black politicians who have failed to act in the interests of the Black community. Rather than spending state funds to help real estate developers build luxury apartments, he called for reparations, including money to families and survivors of police terror.

Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar member Jess Sundin spoke: “In TCC4J, we don’t just want to live in our grief and our anger, we actually want to fight for change. The police shouldn’t make their own rules anymore, they shouldn’t be in charge of investigating themselves anymore, and it’s clear enough prosecutors cannot be expected to hold them accountable. We want to have an all-civilian police accountability council. We want to change the rules. No more dogs as weapons. No more killings - every police officer needs to be held accountable for their wrongdoing. When someone has the power to kill community members, someone else needs to have the power to put them away. In the jail, under the jail, wherever they need to go to get off our streets once and for all.”

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