Thursday, February 19, 2009

Translation of Der Standard article from Feb. 18

Lawyer outraged at Police

Strange Conclusions drawn in the Brennan case

Vienna-The Vienna Police Labor Union has obviously drawn its own conclusions about the “Brennan Case”. For the labor representatives “some of the accusations are not excusable but are explainable”, they shared in a release on Tuesday. The reason they are explainable is that there were 303 cases of on the job police injuries last year. “The scene is getting harder by the day…the police officers have to think about their security too,” the union concluded.

What does Mike Brennan, who was attacked and injured last Wednesday in the subway station Spittelau, according to him, without either warning or the officers identifying themselves, have to do with this? The police officers mistook him for someone from “the scene” the Police Department admits.

They released their own conclusion which is just as strange as that of the Labor Union. According to the release, every person is obligated to cooperate with police, had Mr. Brennan complied with this obligation, the misunderstanding could have been resolved relatively quickly.

The lawyer for Mr. Brennan finds this claim to be outrageous. “How could my client have clarified the misunderstanding after they had already jumped him and started beating him?” It took 3 minutes for one of the police officers to yell “Police, Police,” and neither reacted to Mr. Brennan’s partner’s request for identification, at first. It also remains unclear if an apology by the police has been issued or not. The answer to that question is “no” his lawyer told the Austrian Press Agency.

Reputation of the Agency intact

No disciplinary action has been taken against the officers involved thus far. They have not been suspended since neither the “reputation of the agency nor the profession of police officers” have been damaged, the spokesperson says. In the Haidinger case this argument was one of the reasons for indefinite suspension.

How you can help

In case you want to take action here are a few suggestions on what you can do.

1. Write a blog and post to our group

2. Comment on German and English language newspapers

3. Email Bundespolizei Wien

4. Email the American Embassy

5. Email your Congressman or Representative

6. Talk to someone you know or love about the dangers of racism

7. Comment on Youtube videos

8. Post links to the story and or group on social bookmarking sites like: Twitter, Delicious, Digg, etc.

Tips for posting on Newspaper sights:

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Translation of far right Austrian party's, FPOe, reaction

A translation of the far right party's, FPOe, reaction to the situation, beware it may make you sick, the background is naturally not part of the story.


The FPOe, and its racist counterpart BZOe, control almost a third of this land. 1/3rd! This is their take on the whole thing. Now you see what we’re going up against here people. It’s sad that this type of prejudice is not only used by someone in the government, but by one of the ruling parties. And that so many people think the same way.

Press Release - Feb. 16

FPOe Herbert: Groundless allegations of racism against the police completely innappropriate

Vienna - The mix-up of an innocent person with a drug dealer shouldn’t happen of course and should be examined in the context of the job; but, to turn it into an alleged, and also completely unfounded, police “scandal” should be avoided, the chairman of the AUF/Exekutive-Wien and FPOe spokesman for public service, Werner Herbert clarified today.

That the method of apprehension when arresting someone - especially people with a higher tendency to violence, like drug dealers - needs to be carried out with a certain vehemence and determination, mainly because of personal security, is, on priciple, not condemnable, much like restraining an arrested person on the floor. That this has turned into an allegation of police abuse, almost reflexively, and that a police assault has been pieced together seems not only unjustified but also very strange, above all, since a critique of that sort, together with a compensation claim, and an intended policy complaint [against the police] is coming from a US citizen, and people here also know how rigorous and reckless American police officers are, especially when forcefully arresting someone. And this circumstance is also known to every US citizen,” the chairman AUF/Executive-Vienna stated.

“Because of this, suspiscion arises that someone is trying, for political and/or personal reasons, to slander and debase the extraordinary work of police officers in the capital city obviously with the help of completely fabricated accusations and alleged racism,” the chairman of AUF/Exekutive-Wien said in closing.

An English translation of the first Der Standard article:

An English translation of the first Der Standard article:

American Teacher attacked by Vienna police, Apology for the victim comes too late

Vienna police falsely idenitified an American teacher as a drug dealer, and he
ended up in the hospital with serious injuries.

It took 10 minutes for the undercover policemen to idenitfy themselves.

"I thought they were going to kill me, I was fighting for my life." American
Michael Brennan is stll visibly shaken when he talks about the episode which
happened on Wednesday, February 11. Two men attacked him at the Vienna subway station Spittelau, without warning. The two civilians were undercover Police officers and they mixed Mr. Brennan up with a Drug dealer they were looking for.

Teacher at the Vienna International School

On sunday afternoon the American citizen, who has been an English and PE teacher at the Vienna International School since August 2008, was laying in the Lorenz-Böhler hospital. "Among other things, my back is badly bruised. The pain has been so strong, that now they will have to perform an MRI to see if they can determine the extent of the injuries," he told the Standard.

The attack came out of nowhere

How did you receive the injuries? "I was on the subway when I noticed two men acting strangely, and I knew something wasn't right. I stepped out of the subway car and was on the phone with my girlfriend who was waiting at the station for me. All of the sudden someone hit me from behind, I fell to the floor, and my attacker began beating me as I lay on the floor," the African American teacher explained.

It took police officers 10 minutes to Identify themselves

"I had no idea what was going on and tried to defend myself. I only saw hate in the man's eyes." Another man came to the first attackers aid, only after ten minutes did the two men identify themselves as police officers and apologize to him and his girlfriend, who was also slightly injured as she tried to defend Mr. Brennan. In the ten minutes before the apology, Brennan showed his Identification and decided to contact the US Embassy in Vienna.

Police Chief: Attacking without warning is not standard procedure

"First, I would like to speak to the victim, after the investigation has been
wrapped up. That will happen in the next few days," Vienna's State Police Commander Karl Mahrer said. In addition the district attorney's office has also been notified. "However, it is obviously not standard procedure for the police to attack a person without warning when making an arrest," the Police Chief hurriedly reassured.

"I can defend myself."

For Michael Brennan, however, that's not enough. He has given a statement to the Internal Affairs Detectives covering the case and is taking the two police officers to court. "I defnitely don't want these officers to get off so lightly. Also, I want to prevent this from happening in the future. I can defend myself, but there are enough people out there who cannot help themselves."

Waiting for a Complete Explanation

The Socialist Party of Austria's (SPÖ) human rights spokesperson Marianne Hagenhofer and the Green Party's National Parliament Representative Alev Korun are calling for a complete explanation. Korun criticized that only single cases are examined. "More than likely, the structure needs to be changed and examined, to see if the police are stretched beyond their means," he said.

It seems as though Brennan's doctor has been "overwhelmed" by the incident. "He forbid TV cameras from filming in my boyfriend's room on the grounds that the incident should not be publicized in the media. He also forbid a report in front of the hospital," Brennan's girlfriend explained irritatedly.

Links to sites covering the story

German Language stories:

Erste bericht von Kurier

English language links:

Justice for Mike Brennan

After starting the facebook group on Monday and seeing how fast is growing, I think it is time to get a blog going to share with the rest of the world who isn't on facebook, all 10% of them.  If you don't know what's going on, here's the scoop.

African American English and P.E. (physical education) teacher Mike Brennan, from Jacksonville, Florida, was brutally attacked by two undercover police officers who mistook him for a drug dealer in Vienna, Austria as he stepped out of a subway car.

The Police did not identify themselves until at least 3 minutes into the attack. They refused to produce identification that they were police for at least 10 minutes, and only did so after Mr. Brennan's girlfriend called the Austrian equivalent of 911 (133). At which time they flashed their badges and soon after left the scene with Mr. Brennan in pain. They never called an ambulance. 

The police in Austria have not suspended the officers, have not called Mike to apologize, and seem to be taking a stance that neither one of these things will happen. They claim that the officers actions did not harm the reputation of the police department nor did they damage the profession of police officers as a whole. The only contact to Mike as of Wednesday, was a call made last Thursday by Vienna Police chief Karl Mahrer to Mike's girlfriend saying that this should not have happened and has never happened before. 

In fact the police department is trying to push some of the blame for the incident off on Mike, saying that if he had only told the officers he was not a drug dealer, the whole incident could have been avoided. As Mike came out of the hospital on Tuesday he was confronted by a reporter who asked him if he had said he was not a drug dealer and if not why he had not. Mike could not really understand why they were asking this question as he was unaware of this story being circulated by the police dpartment. He responded very confused saying that not only did he not say it, but the thought never crossed his mind as he was too busy trying to figure out why he was being jumped and defending himself. He had no idea that he had been mistaken for a drug dealer until it came out in the newspaper.

Also on Monday the far right wing party in Austria issued a statement to the effect that, Mike's an American and he should be used to police brutality! And the fact that he is suing and obviously pulled the accusations out of thin air is extremely suspicious to them.

Folks we are dealing with institutionalized racism here in Austria. It's in the police department, it's in the buracracy, it's in the highest levels of government. It may not always be someone slandering someone else, but it's the looks that people give one another, it's the slurs people utter under their breath, and it's the people who sit back and let a group full of Neo-Nazi kids belittle two Turkish women and doing absolutely nothing about it. Prime example, there were at least 30 people who witnessed the attack, and it is big news here in Austria, not one has come forward yet.

This has got to stop and Mike is fully behind "Justice for Mike Brennan" and will be taking an active roll when he is able to finally move around again.