Saturday, September 19, 2015

SHOCK AUDIO: Mary Jo Copeland of "Mary's Place" kicks out family for calling the police after their 8 year old girl is punched in the face 4 times by 11 year old boy.

I have been provided an audio clip that shocked me. In this audio clip, which was recorded very recently, Mary Jo Copeland of “Mary's Place,” a homeless shelter in Minneapolis, kicks a woman and her young children out of the shelter for calling the police as a result of an assault on her 8 year old daughter.

In this audio clip, Mary Jo Copeland clearly tells a tenant at her “place” that she and her small children are being kicked out because she called the police as a result of an assault by an 11 year old boy on her 8 year old girl. In the recording, Ms. Copeland states that the boy who perpetrated the assault was 9 years old. According to my information, the boy was 11 years old. In the audio recording, Ms. Copeland states that “there is a lot of racism” at Mary's Place. It is not clear to me why she said this except that according to what I have been told the boy is Somali and the girl is white. The 8 year old girl was punched in the face four times by the 11 year old boy. This was not “pushing and shoving” as Ms. Copeland states. I do not know whether Ms. Copeland actually examined the injuries on the girl, but she did indicate that she spoke to the boy, who she said “felt bad” about his assault.  In my almost 20 years in the criminal justice system in Minnesota, it is my experience that perpetrators of crimes often "feel bad" about what they have done, usually because they got caught.  Here is the recording, I have two links for two different formats here:

A picture of injuries as a result of the assault by the assailant is below, I am posting this picture with the approval of the child's mother.  I am not identifying her or the child by name at this time.

Before I heard this audio and saw this picture I had a very positive view of Mary Jo Copeland, who is scheduled to have a private audience with Pope Francis for his upcoming visit to the United States in the next few days.  I am not Catholic, but I send my children to Catholic School and respect Catholicism. I state this because my post about this has nothing to do with any bias against Catholicism.  One of the things I really admire about Catholicism is its teachings about being humane to people and helping people in need.  I take these concepts seriously.

After calling the police, my sources have informed me that the Minneapolis Police stated the assailant and his family should be removed from the shelter.  Instead, Mary Jo Copeland protected the assailant and kicked out the girl who had been assaulted and her entire family, consisting of other minor children.

The child who was assaulted was a tenant of "Mary's Place." Minnesota law is perfectly clear that retaliation against tenants for calling the police is explicitly prohibited.  Ms. Copeland explicitly states in this recording that this is the reason that she is kicking out this family, a direct violation of Minnesota law as far as I can tell.  Here is the law of Minnesota on this issue:

Subdivision 1.Definitions. In this section, "domestic abuse" has the meaning given in section 518B.01, subdivision 2.
Subd. 2.Emergency calls permitted. (a) A landlord may not:
(1) bar or limit a residential tenant's right to call for police or emergency assistance in response to domestic abuse or any other conduct; or
(2) impose a penalty on a residential tenant for calling for police or emergency assistance in response to domestic abuse or any other conduct.
(b) A residential tenant may not waive and a landlord may not require the residential tenant to waive the residential tenant's right to call for police or emergency assistance.
Subd. 3.Local preemption. This section preempts any inconsistent local ordinance or rule including, without limitation, any ordinance or rule that:
(1) requires an eviction after a specified number of calls by a residential tenant for police or emergency assistance in response to domestic abuse or any other conduct; or
(2) provides that calls by a residential tenant for police or emergency assistance in response to domestic abuse or any other conduct may be used to penalize or charge a fee to a landlord.
This subdivision shall not otherwise preempt any local ordinance or rule that penalizes a landlord for, or requires a landlord to abate, conduct on the premises that constitutes a nuisance or other disorderly conduct as defined by local ordinance or rule.
Subd. 4.Residential tenant responsibility. This section shall not be construed to condone or permit any breach of a lease or of law by a residential tenant including, but not limited to, disturbing the peace and quiet of other tenants, damage to property, and disorderly conduct.
Subd. 5.Residential tenant remedies. A residential tenant may bring a civil action for a violation of this section and recover from the landlord $250 or actual damages, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney's fees.
Subd. 6.Attorney general authority. The attorney general has authority under section 8.31 to investigate and prosecute violations of this section."

My investigation and gathering of information of this continues, however, the recording of Ms. Copeland speaks for itself, and I am not impressed with her conduct.

I have received some other information about "Mary's Place" that I have not been able to examine entirely, but there are apparently other conditions at this facility that may be running afoul of the law.  However, at this time, I do not have enough information about these other allegations to write about them.

Based upon the information I have right now, I personally do not believe that "Mary's Place" is a safe place for families and children.  The punishment for seeking assistance from law enforcement, prohibited by Minnesota Law, leads me to this opinion.  If an 8 year old girl is not safe from being assaulted and her assailant is protected in this way, then this is most certainly a dangerous place for children and other vulnerable people.

Please feel free to email me about this story.  If you are a media outlet, I would be happy to put you in touch with this family, and I would be happy to speak with you.

Nathan Hansen