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  On October 9, 2020, 16 17 Oregon-based social justice organizations and three prominent individuals sent the below letter to Governor Kate Brown asking her to end the state's cooperation with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.


We, the undersigned, call on the State of Oregon to end cooperation of any of its officers and employees with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and cancel the existing JTTF Memorandum of Agreement with the FBI.


Many of the organizations signing this letter have been active in encouraging withdrawal of local government participation in federal Joint Terrorism Task Forces for many years. Some have been doing so since the year 2000 shortly after the Task Forces were first introduced. Joint Terrorism Task Forces conduct clandestine operations targeting individuals and groups without probable cause of any criminal activity. In doing so they routinely violate state law, particularly 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. They invite local and state law enforcement officers to join in these activities, putting the local authorities at risk of violating the law. Documents obtained by the ACLU in the 2000s showed that JTTF "disruption" actions focused on inappropriate targeting of peaceful political activity having nothing to do with terrorism.

A 2013 report from the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law pointed out "there is no mechanism geared towards ensuring compliance with state and local laws." JTTFs historically have profiled minority religious and ethnic groups even when they pose little or no threat. After 9/11, the FBI officially deemphasized white supremacist terrorism investigations and "disruptions," even though Countering Violent Extremism Task Force research evidences more people are killed annually by white supremacist terror groups than by any other U.S. group.


Portland was the first major city in the U.S. to withdraw and now it is time for Oregon to be the first state to withdraw participation. The reasons to withdraw are for accountability, separation of federal and local policing, costs, and most importantly respect of civil rights and privacy.

Portland withdrew its cooperation from the JTTF in 2005 due in part to JTTF involvement in the wrongful arrest of a local Muslim attorney in connection with the Madrid Spain bombing and in part because the Police Chief and Police Commissioner are not allowed to have the same "Top Secret" clearance as the officers they oversee. After Portland re-joined the JTTF in 2011, four years later the pubic stopped receiving annual reports, so there was no way to know if PPB officers participated in observed violations of ORS 181A.250.

San Francisco pulled out of its Joint Terrorism Task Force in February 2017 acknowledging that working with the FBI would lead to violations of state and local laws and policies. As in Portland and San Francisco, the state withdrawing participation in the JTTF would not restrict Oregon state police from working with the FBI on legitimate law enforcement investigations on a case-by-case basis.

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 police targeting based on race, national origin or a host of other characteristics. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a member of the JTTF, meaning Oregon's status as the first sanctuary state is threatened by Oregon state officers continuing participation in these Federal Task Forces. In late May, Attorney General Bill Barr pledged to use the nation's JTTFs to investigate "organizers and instigators" associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.*-1

Assaults by federal officers against Portland political protestors and members of the media on the streets of downtown Portland show that federal law enforcement officers are not to be trusted, nor are they authorized or trained to do the kind of local policing they are trying to engage in.

The time is ripe for Oregon to be part of a national movement to protect residents and citizens from further potential civil liberties abuses. Therefore, we request that Oregon immediately withdraw the Oregon State Police participation from all Federal Joint Terrorism Task Forces.


Peace and Justice Works/Portland Copwatch

Brandon Mayfield (survivor of illegal FBI spying)

Portland JACL (Japanese American Citizens League)

Veterans For Peace Chapter 72 Portland

Veterans For Peace Linus Pauling Chapter 132 of Corvallis-Albany

Albany Peace Seekers

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Oregon

Unite Oregon

Portland Democratic Socialist of America

Ainsworth United Church of Christ (Portland)

Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance

Portland Jobs with Justice

Oregon Justice Resource Center

Portland's Resistance

Portland Metro People's Coalition

Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland

Individuals for Justice

Rabbi Ariel Stone for Congregation Shir Tikvah (Portland)*

Malcolm Chaddock (survivor of illegal JTTF spying)

*- organizational name for identification purposes only

*1-USDOJ News release, May 31, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barrs-statement-riots-and-domestic- terrorism

*2-There are 1920 signers, 1617 organizations and 3 individuals. At least 3 of the groups are statewide (Oregon PSR, CAIR-OR and Unite Oregon), and two others are not based in Portland (Albany Peace Seekers and VFP Chapter 132 Corvallis/Albany). Veterans For Peace 72 signed the letter on October 8 but were left of by a clerical error.



JTTF campaign page


Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

Page created October 9, 2020, last updated October 10, 2020

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