Open Letter to City Council Opposing the JTTF in Portland

The Portland City Council needs to hear from YOU. Please use the text of the letter we sent to the Commissioners today, and the key points listed after the letter, as a guide to composing your own letter telling the City Council to vote NO on the JTTF. Contact info for each commissioner and the city attorney is below our letter. Send your letter by email now!

Dear Mayor Adams and City Council Commissioners,

We write you with serious concerns about the possibility that Portland City Council may vote to expand the presence of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in our community.  Fundamental questions have not been answered, and legitimate concerns have not been adequately addressed.

How will assigning Portland Police officers to the JTTF benefit the Portland community?

Portland already suffers from lack of funds for social services.  We see schools (and police stations) closing and fewer facilities providing social services for larger areas with less resources at their disposal.  Rather than assign these officers to the JTTF and open up our city agencies and offices to the FBI, we should be investing our tax dollars and community resources into expanding and strengthening social services for the benefit of our community.

It is clear that the FBI will benefit from the proposed resolution, should they choose to accept it, but the benefit to Portland is hard to detect.  The FBI and the JTTF have a history of religious, racial and political profiling that violate both civil liberties and the law.  The FBI's standard procedure of investigating based on profiling, where there has been no evidence of illegal activity, is in violation of Oregon law (ORS 181.575).

The JTTF and FBI actively target anti-war protesters, Palestinian rights activists, Muslims, environmental activists, animal rights activists, the house-less and ethnic minorities. This is not acceptable, and we urge the City Council not to let Portland’s officers become involved.

Having Portland Police officers work with the FBI, which has thousands of documented abuses of civil liberties, is a financial liability and risks the integrity of a city known for its progressive stance on civil liberties and human rights. In 2006, the federal government paid $2 million to settle the case with Brandon Mayfield as a result of the FBI's unwarranted invasion of his property and destruction of his reputation.  Do we really want to expose the City of Portland to this kind of moral and financial liability?

The answer is no.

We want to see a resolution that installs effective oversight, transparency and accountability for any FBI or federal presence in Portland, not a resolution that creates an open door for the FBI to use local resources for its benefit, without regard for local law and democratic principles.

Mayor Adams released a draft resolution on Wednesday, April 20, and then a revised version on Friday, April 22.  The Oregonian’s Brad Schmidt reported on Saturday that the Mayor's office plans to release a final draft resolution on April 27, just one day before the public hearing and possible vote.  This is not enough time for public comment and critical analysis.  Much of the public comment is against rejoining the JTTF, yet numerous delays and missed deadlines have made it difficult for the public to voice their opposition.  City Council has inhibited community involvement in this process by repeatedly changing meeting times and canceling meetings, thus limiting public opportunity to share concerns and be a part of creating an acceptable resolution.

The way that this process has been handled by City Council does not instill confidence that any future relationship with the FBI will be carried out with regard for the needs of our community and with respect for the principles of democracy.

A vote Thursday, April 28, on any resolution would be an insult to the concerned citizens and community groups and the legitimate issues that they raise.

We urge City Council to use the Public Hearing as an opportunity to hear public feedback on the resolutions presented and to not call a vote prematurely.  If you choose to vote then we call on you to honor your office and the constituents that you represent and vote NO on the JTTF.

Sincerely,

Oregon Progressive Party
320 SW Stark St., Ste. 202
Portland, OR 97204
503-548-2797
civilrights@ProgParty.org
www.ProgParty.org

** Emailed to Council Commissioners April 26.


Use these
key points to formulate your personalized letter.

-- We don't want the JTTF in Portland.  
- Having officers assigned to work with the FBI will in no way serve the needs of our community.  

-- We need to pursue ways to have accountability, control and oversight when it comes to the FBI and the JTTF in our community that involves elected officials signing off on any cooperation without expanding the role of the JTTF, the FBI or any domestic spying programs that threaten our civil liberties and our ability to monitor law enforcement activities.

-- A vote at the public hearing on Thursday the 28th would be premature.  How will public feedback be integrated into the resolution?

-- If you are going to vote, VOTE NO.

-- Rejoining the JTTF will cost the City of Portland.
- Not only do we pay for the police officers who will be working for the FBI and not the city but we also will open ourselves up to serious financial liability when the FBI is negligent or abusing their power.  This is not how we want our tax dollars being used!

-- The FBI has thousands of documented abuses of civil liberties and often operates outside of the law.

-- The FBI and the JTTF targets groups where there is no evidence of illegal activity.
- The groups being targeted include anti-war protesters, palestinian rights activists, muslims, environmental activists, animal rights activists, the house-less and ethnic minorities.  This is not acceptable!

-- We want a strong healthy democracy that does not punish individuals or groups for engaging in peaceful dissent.
 
Contact info below.  Let them hear your voice!
 
Sam Adams
Mayor, Commissioner of Finance and Administration
(503) 823-4120
Samadams@portlandoregon.gov
 
Amanda Fritz
Commissioner of Public Utilities, Position Number 1
(503) 823-3008
amanda@portlandoregon.gov  
 
Nick Fish
Commissioner of Public Works, Position Number 2
(503) 823-3589
Nick@portlandoregon.gov
 
Dan Saltzman
Commissioner of Public Affairs, Position Number 3
(503) 823-4151  
dan@portlandoregon.gov   
 
Randy Leonard
Commissioner of Public Safety, Position Number 4
(503) 823-4682
randy@portlandoregon.gov
 
LaVonne Griffin-Valade
City Auditor
(503) 823-4078
lavonne.griffin-valade@portlandoregon.gov

Linda Meng

City Attorney

(503) 823-4047
kim.sneath@portlandoregon.gov

It is Time

We will be in front of City Hall for a bit!

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2011/05/408097.shtml

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