The Legal Rights Center is deeply saddened by the passing of Neegawnwaywidung (Clyde Bellecourt) and the loss this represents for our community, our Native American neighbors, and for everyone involved in the fight for justice. Over 50 years ago, it was Clyde’s vision that helped create the Legal Rights Center. His passion for equity and his belief in community empowerment were the flames that ignited and sustained a movement. It was Clyde and the American Indian Movement, in partnership with Black community activists from North Minneapolis, who worked together to found a law firm that was by and for people of color. Clyde continued to lead the Legal Rights Center throughout his life, serving on our Board of Directors for almost 50 years.
We send our deep condolences to Peggy, the entire Bellecourt family, and to all who are mourning. At this very difficult moment, we know that Clyde would encourage us to continue living into our values and fighting for what is right. We will honor Clyde’s legacy by continuing to relentlessly pursue our mission of working with our communities to seek justice and promote racial equity for those to whom it has been historically denied. As Clyde told us in his autobiography, The Thunder Before the Storm, “If you don’t get out and do the damn hard work, it ain’t going to happen.” We will continue to do the hard work every day as we honor his memory.
Potter’s Attorneys File Notice Of Defenses to the Court
Kimberly Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer that fatally shot Daunte Wright after allegedly mistaking her gun for a taser, filed a notice of defenses on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Her attorneys, Paul Engh and Earl Gray have four potential options for Potter’s defenses: “Innocent Accident,” “Innocent Mistake,” “Her perceived use of a Taser was reasonable,” and “Lack of causation.” The attorneys plan to show the jury that the event was an accident and that a “police officer’s accidental shot is not a crime.” Each of these defenses relates to the narrative that the attorneys will use in court telling the jury that Potter made an honest mistake.
What is Innocent Accident & Innocent Mistake?
To win a conviction for some crimes, a prosecutor has to prove that there was some kind of intent to commit a criminal offense or intent to commit some act that led to the crime. Additionally, some crimes call for a prosecutor to prove that the defendant acted criminally negligent, meaning that the person behaved recklessly towards human life. When a person defends a criminal charge by showing an “Innocent Accident/Mistake,” they must show that there was no criminal intent, they acted with no criminal negligence, and they were engaged in lawful conduct at the time of the accident. If the defense is successful, it can serve to reduce the charge or even get a charge dismissed entirely. Accident works as a defense because it negates a showing that an accused acted with specific intent or negligence.
How Can Use of a Taser Reasonably Be a Defense?
The attorneys in this case plan to use the events that led up to the fatal shooting of Wright as justification for the action of Potter to reach for her taser. They will use those actions to portray that Potter was acting as a reasonable person when she reached for her taser, as Wright was fleeing the scene of the traffic stop. The defense has stated that the attempt to flee was a safety threat to the officers at the scene of the crime, including that one officer could have been “dragged to death.” Additionally, they will bring in a use-of-force expert to explain how Potter could have mistaken her gun for her taser. Using the expert, the defense will most likely use the reasonable use of a taser and innocent mistake defenses together to establish an idea of innocence to the jury.
What is Lack of Causation?
Causation is the “causal relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the result.” In other words, it is what connects the defendant and the crime that has occurred. The defense will try to prove that Potter didn’t want to kill Wright because she mistook her gun for a taser, and that Potter lacked causation because she never expected to use her gun. This argument would break the legal causation of the crime.
The defense plans to give these defenses in the case of Potter on the date of Nov. 30. The case will be live-streamed due to Covid-19 concerns and public demands for transparency.
The Legal Rights Center, Inc. (LRC) seeks outstanding candidates to join our team as our Development & Communications Associate. This is a new position that will support LRC’s fundraising and communications efforts, with a focus on advancing our community mission and advocacy goals.
See the full positing for more information on the role.
To apply, please email a letter explaining your interest in the position and your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finalists will be asked to provide professional references. For questions or more information, please call Sarah Davis at 612-677-2124.
We are looking for outstanding candidates to join our team as our African American Community Advocate. LRC was founded in 1970 through the coordinated efforts from members of Black and American Indian activist communities (later joined by immigrant communities) to provide high quality legal representation for people who could not obtain those services elsewhere and to pursue system transformation. One of the pillars of the LRC is to meaningfully, actively engage with our founding and constituent communities. From its inception, the LRC has had community workers, now known as community advocates, whose work to integrate the efforts of the LRC with the culturally-specific institutions built by and for the clients we work with is central to us living into our mission.
See the job posting and instructions for how to apply here.
Application Deadline: Open until filled. Preference for candidates who apply by October 31.
Description: The No Kids in Prison, MN campaign is seeking youth between the ages of 14-24 to participate in a 5-month paid ($1500) fellowship.
Great youth for this fellowship are:
How to Apply:
Please fill out the quick google form! Feel free to hit Terrence Shambley Jr. with questions email@example.com.
About the Organization:
A direct project of the Legal Rights Center (LRC), No Kids in Prison, MN is an abolitionist campaign to free all Twin Cities youth from Minnesota’s carceral system through building radical youth leadership, closing the state and county youth prisons, and advocating for community-controlled supports that serve as the basis of a new youth justice system. This campaign is in progress with plans to launch in 2022. Please see LRC’s website (www.legalrightscenter.org) for more information about the organization, and our national partner’s website (www.nokidsinprison.org) to learn more about the coalition in which this campaign is a part.
LRC staff include attorneys and advocates from a range of background and lived experiences.
The Legal Rights Center
1611 Park Ave. S.
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P: 612-337-0030 F: 612-337-0797
The Legal Rights Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit financially supported by: the State of Minnesota, foundations, local law firms, corporations and individuals. Clients are never charged for our services.