The Oregon Progressive Party and other lefty groups are staging a rally tomorrow at City Hall to oppose Portland rejoining the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
(UPDATE at 1:40 PM: The City Council's Feb. 24 hearing has been rescheduled to March 10 at 2 pm)
The 12:30 pm rally on Thursday, Feb. 24 precedes a 2pm public hearing inside City Hall on whether the city should rejoin the task force it left in 2005 over legal and civil-rights concerns.
Here's the press release from the Progressive Party:
Portland, OR – Indignant Portlanders and a broad coalition of local organizations have planned a rally opposing the City of Portland rejoining the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) on February 24 at 12:30 pm outside City Hall, prior to the final public hearing and vote by the City Council.
Organizations such as Oregon Progressive Party, Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 and Oregon Jericho, are among several of groups that strongly oppose joining the JTTF because of the continued evidence and facts surrounding issues of profiling, wiretapping, spying and arresting of activists in organizations and immigrant and Muslim communities in Portland and other U.S. cities.
Partnered with the JTTF, Portland Police officers could not comply with Oregon law (ORS 181.575), because they would certainly be involved in the monitoring and collection of data on "the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of" Oregon citizens and groups. Not only would select Portland officers be given special FBI clearances and duties, but the mayor would not have the ability or clearance to effectively monitor or supervise these officers. This was a key reason for former Mayor Tom Potter's original historic decision to have Portland be the only U.S. city to leave the JTTF.
Supporters hope a "no" vote on rejoining the JTTF will be a signal to other cities that they can stand up to the FBI and stand up for civil liberties.
“We aren't afraid to say no to the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force in order to stand up for our civil liberties and the democratic tradition. We are the only U.S. city that does not sponsor the JTTF; we kicked them out in 2005 and we see no reason to bring them back now. We will not stand by silently as undercover antagonists assault our civil liberties, our political dissidents, our peaceful activists, or our Muslim and Arab brothers and sisters.” said Progressive Party Organizer, Alaina Melville.
The FBI has a shameful history of domestic spying and abuses of civil liberties. A large group of protesters are planning to demand that Portland stay independent of the FBI and maintain its status as the only major U.S. city not joined with the JTTF in order to maintain civilian control of the police and the protection of civil rights.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered over 40,000 violations by the FBI of U.S. citizens' constitutional rights since 9/11/2011. As recently as September 2010 the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice found the FBI to have consistently violated civil liberties by actively investigating peace groups, animal rights activists, Palestinian rights activists, environmental groups, and anti-war protesters, without any evidence of crimes.
Speaking at the event will be Tom Nelson, lawyer for Oregonian Brandon Mayfield, a local adherent of Islam who was falsely detained by the FBI due to a misidentified fingerprint from the Madrid terrorist bombings. Also speaking is local author and activist Michael Munk, Wael Elasady (the founder of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER)), and Portland trial attorney Greg Kafoury.
The event is co-sponsored by the Oregon Progressive Party, Oregon Jericho, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace Chapter 72, NW Student Coalition, Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, Portland Coalition Opposing Political Repression, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, International Socialist Organization, Portland Animal Defense League, Freedom Socialist Party, and Individuals for Justice.