What is a confidential informant?
What are the ground rules for handling an informant?
When will being an informant no longer give them permission to commit crimes with impunity?
Notice, we did not ask who is an informant. We all know that informants can be helpful to law enforcement. Our complaint is when they are harmful to the community or are allowed to commit crimes with impunity.
There are average informants and those that are card carrying, official CCI’s (Certified Confidential Informants). They are usually neighbors. They come in all colors, races, genders, religions, creeds, and orientations.
The role of an informant is as old as civilizations from ancient times, whether Western, Eastern, or a mix. Informants are recruited to spy on fellow citizens, report activities, and, too often, set up negative incidents. For their work they get favors, pay, or reduced sentences. But when county and city prosecutors allow them to be above the law they are using and fooling the law. This suggests there may be a need for citizen oversight like the former Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC).
The Black Community is too often targeted for the use of informants in dealing with race and crime problems, especially since J Edgar Hoover and the FBI turned to them during the 1960s. Federal, state, city and town agencies all have a history of stepping over the line to utilize informants to block or slow the Civil Rights Movement.
The siege of Black America due to illegal drugs, such as crack cocaine, allowed to be brought in by outsiders, has torn the heart and soul out of many African American neighborhoods. Informants have been a significant part of providing chaos, suspicion, manipulation, physical violence, and, yes, murders, while Black and White leadership benefit by standing by quietly.
I am not surprised by how many informants are being used by federal, state, and city that are allowed to commit mayhem in our neighborhoods, to create obstacles to prevent or slow civil rights progress and prosperity. U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, D-CA, first signaled the dangers of confidential informants when she warned her constituents in South Central Los Angeles of the pending threat that began back in the 1960s.
In the Twin Cities, over the past year I’ve seen a frightening pattern in African Americans used as confidential informants. For instance, September 15, 2015: a young African American was shot six times. He survived but will remain partially paralyzed. His mother has fought valiantly to have her son’s shooter, an informant, arrested. Her request for justice is continually denied.
Recently, the Hennepin County Attorney declined to charge the prime suspect in the death of a two-year-old child in North Minneapolis (see my columns of July 21 and 28, 2016), creating polarization between the MPD (that wants to charge) and the Hennepin County Attorney’s office (that doesn’t). As of the writing of this column, the suspect was released and has disappeared.
We have learned the informant is considered too valuable as a confidential informant to be charged in the two-year-old Black child’s death. This has become quite common in America today: confidential informants — some paid — creating chaos and maintaining confusion and conflict within the African American neighborhoods.
We understand informants are important in the war against crime. It crosses the line when they become part of the war against Black America. There are some who will gasp at that statement, that it is impossible, that institutions of law and order would never carry out actions contrary to justice, but it happens. It is a part of the conscious devaluing of the rights of equality of opportunity during the fight for justice and equal protection under the law, ironically making it also more dangerous for informants as well as for justice