[pjw] UPDATE: Joint Terrorism Task Force issue back in the spotlight (Mercury Blog 1/17)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Jan 18 13:04:09 EST 2019

Supporters of peace and justice

As you know, PJW / Portland Copwatch and a growing number of community 
groups have been working intensely over the past two years (and the 16 
years before that) to get the Portland Police to take its officers out of 
the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Wednesday night, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty pulled together a community 
forum at Unite Oregon with some of the groups working on the campaign. 
Below is the Portland Mercury's article on the forum, which includes the 
landscape of what is going on at City Hall. Hardesty wants to hold a 
vote but is willing to have a "Work Session" ahead of time, and for some 
reason (?) Mayor Wheeler gets to say when that will be and who will speak 
at it. While two Council members (Hardesty and Fritz) have said they are 
opposed to participation in the JTTF, Commissioner Eudaly is still talking 
to some people in the community before taking a public position. However 
she is generally considered sympathetic.

The current letter has 45 signatures on it and is posted at


One thing that isn't mentioned in the Mercury's article is that the FBI 
admitted at their news conference in December that they deport people who 
do not have proper immigration paperwork if those people are suspected of 
being terrorists but the FBI doesn't have any criminal charges for them.


For those who want more info, I recommend following the link to the 
Mercury piece as it contains links to older articles.

We are still gathering organizational signatures if your group wants to
sign on. Commissioner Fritz encouraged people to write short emails to the 
Council expressing their opinions about the JTTF. Contact info is on our 
campaign page at


We will keep you posted if and when the issue comes up at Council.

dan handelman
peace and justice works / portland copwatch

Hardesty Leads Charge to Sever City's Ties With Federal Terrorism Taskforce
    by Alex Zielinski o Jan 17, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    With a new opponent in city council, the future of Portland's ties with
    a controversial FBI taskforce is--again--up for debate.

    "On the campaign trail, what I heard over and over again from people
    was their sense of insecurity, just walking around Portland,"
    Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said at a community meeting Wednesday
    night. Removing Portland police from the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task
    Force (JTTF), Hardesty said, could be a major step toward repairing
    those community fears.

    Portland has had an on-again-off-again relationship with the JTTF, a
    top-secret program that allows local law enforcement to share
    information with their regional FBI office, for more than a decade.
    Currently, the city has dedicated two Portland police officers to the
    taskforce, but neither the mayor nor the police chief are allowed to
    know what kind of projects the FBI has them working on.

    Civil rights advocates have long raised concerns that the FBI could
    easily rope local officers into surveillance efforts that violate state
    laws--specifically, laws that prohibit police targeting people based on
    their ethnicity or religion alone. And now, those advocates have a
    dedicated ally on the city council. At the Wednesday forum, held at
    immigrant rights nonprofit Unite Oregon, Hardesty joined local civil
    liberty groups in decrying Portland's role in the JTTF.

    "I feel very uneasy having city employees that are working for a
    federal government that has shown that its targeted immigrants and
    refugees," Hardesty said.

    Hardesty entered Portland City Council with a primary goal to end the
    city's relationship with the JTTF. By replacing longtime JTTF fan Dan
    Saltzman at the council dais, Hardesty may have the votes needed to get
    the job done.

    The FBI isn't thrilled about this plan. Earlier this week, Hardesty met
    with Renn Cannon, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Portland
    division, to hear the agency's arguments for remaining in the JTTF.
    According to Hardesty, Cannon and his colleagues explained that there
    are "very clear lines" between what the FBI does and what the police do
    on the JTTF. She wasn't convinced.

    "We just don't know how much data the FBI is collecting, what they're
    doing with the data, and how they're using that data to have an impact
    on community members," she said. Hardesty said there's little proof
    that Portland's involvement in the JTTF makes Portland any more
    protected from terrorist threats.

    Last year, former FBI investigator Michael German testified before city
    council in opposition of the JTTF partnership, alleging that the
    taskforce has explicitly targeted immigrants and communities of color.
    Hardesty said that instead of putting police resources toward
    supporting the FBI, the city should focus its attention on responding
    to overlooked and underreported hate crimes in the community.

    The city has had a long and turbulent relationship with the JTTF. In
    2005, under the leadership of then-Mayor Tom Potter, the city left the
    taskforce amid civil liberty concerns. In 2011, shortly after the FBI
    revealed a Muslim man had tried to bomb Portland's Christmas tree
    lighting ceremony (not without with the FBI's encouragement), the city
    was convinced the to re-join the JTTF on a case-by-case basis. Then, in
    2015, the city council voted 3-2 to fully join the taskforce--with
    Commissioner Amanda Fritz and former Commissioner Steve Novick the
    dissenting votes.

    Fritz, whose views on the JTTF remain unchanged, was the only other
    city council member in attendance Wednesday night.

    According to Hardesty's staff, the new commissioner has pushed to get a
    JTTF vote before city council since entering office earlier this month.
    But, since the JTTF is a contentious issue with a complicated history
    in city hall, Hardesty doesn't want to rush it to a council vote
    without a public work session. The one person who's able to schedule a
    work session is Mayor Ted Wheeler, a vocal advocate for the JTTF.

    "I believe remaining in the JTTF is critical to safety and wellbeing to
    all Portlanders, because it allows us to preempt potential violence,"
    said Wheeler at a Thursday press conference. "There are others on city
    council who want to have a conversation about our involvement and I am
    certainly willing to do that."

    Wheeler said he's "committed to a work session" that includes
    representatives from the FBI and Portland Police Bureau. He's
    considering allowing people who oppose the JTTF, like the ACLU of
    Oregon, to join the session. There's no set date for that work session,
    which will be open to the public but won't include public testimony.

    If brought to a council vote, Commissioner Nick Fish is expected to
    stand by his previous vote to maintain Portland's ties with the
    taskforce. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, while skeptical of the
    relationship, has yet to indicate how she'd vote on the issue.

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