Constitution in Crisis :: November NewsletterNovember 1, 2017
Small Independent News Outlets have Outsized ImpactNovember 9, 2017
Today in Portland, OR, a coalition of 23 local civil liberties, civil rights, and peace and justice groups called on the city council to withdraw the city’s police from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, an FBI-led coalition of law enforcement agencies which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the IRS, Homeland Security and local police agencies. Local police officers assigned to the JTTF operate under the very loose rules that guide FBI agents.
Community advocates representing Portland Copwatch, Unite Oregon, ACLU of Oregon, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Oregon and others spoke at a press conference in front of City Hall this morning. Also present at the press conference, and part of the coalition, was Brandon Mayfield, the lawyer who was falsely arrested and detained by the FBI in 2004.
The coalition delivered a letter to the City Council and Mr. Mayfield, Kimberly McCullough of the ACLU and Marleen Wallingford of the Japanese American Citizens League each had three minutes to tell Council why they should withdraw from the JTTF. They got a “thank you.”
Portlanders engaged in a similar campaign fifteen years ago, and succeed in getting the city to cut ties with the JTTF in 2005. Portland Copwatch reports that between 2011 and 2015, the PPB semi-rejoined the JTTF, only assigning officers to work with the FBI part time, and requiring annual reports which were extremely vague about the JTTF’s activities. In 2015, the city fully rejoined the Task Force.
Portlanders: Take Action (via the ACLU Oregon website)
The letter is available here, and below
END COOPERATION WITH THE FBI’S TERRORISM TASK FORCE
We, the undersigned, call on Portland City Council to withdraw the two full-time Portland Police Officers from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and cancel the Memorandum of Agreement with the FBI.
–Portland was not part of the Task Force from 2005-2011 based on the inability of the Police Chief and Police Commissioner to have the same “Top Secret” clearance as the officers they oversee. That issue has not changed.
–After Portland re-joined the JTTF fully in 2015, the public stopped receiving annual reports, so there has been no indication whether PPB officers have reported violations of provisions of ORS 181A.250 prohibiting law enforcement from collecting or maintaining information on people’s “political, religious or social” affiliations without reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct.
–President Trump has made it clear he plans to target people based on their religion (Muslims), national origin (immigrants), and political beliefs (protestors), not to mention the media and others. Any JTTF activity along these lines would violate not only ORS 181A.250 but would also be in apparent violation of HB 2002’s restrictions against profiling– police targeting people solely based on race, national origin or a host of other characteristics.*
–Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a member of the JTTF, meaning Portland’s pledge to be a Sanctuary City is threatened by PPB officers participating in the Task Force.
–San Francisco pulled out of its Joint Terrorism Task Force on February 1, acknowledging that working with the FBI in its current form would lead to violations of state and local laws and policies.
As was the case from 2005-2015 when Portland formally re-joined, this would not restrict Portland Police from working on legitimate law enforcement investigations when actual criminal activity is suspected and detected on a case-by-case basis.
The time is ripe for Portland to be part of a national movement to protect residents and citizens from further potential civil liberties abuses.
ACLU of Oregon
Portland Japanese American Citizens League
Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform
Peace and Justice Works/Portland Copwatch
League of Women Voters of Portland
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) Iraq Veterans Against the War
Veterans For Peace Chapter 72
Council on American-Islamic Relations of Oregon
Islamic Society of Greater Portland
Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland
Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition
Portland National Lawyers Guild
Portland Jobs with Justice
Sisters Of The Road
Oregon Progressive Party
International Socialist Organization (Portland) Individuals for Justice
Network Against Racism and Islamophobia