Prosecutor claims there wasn't enough evidence to proceed against well known homeless advocate with community supporters

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Homeless advocate Ibrahim MubarakLetters and possible testimony from allies of a prominent homeless advocate, Ibrahim Mubarak, contributed to the decision to drop drug possession charges against him after he said the drugs belonged to someone else.

Mubarak, who formerly headed Dignity Village and co-founded the homeless encampment Right 2 Dream, Too, was charged with possession of a controlled substance based on a traffic stop at about 4:30 a.m. on May 2, when officers spotted a vial and pipe inside his glove box upon pulling him over. He was arraigned the following day.

Mubarak largely declined to comment when first contacted by the Portland Tribune about the charge in July, but his associates came forward saying the drugs belonged to someone else, as he had been using the SUV to transport homeless people.

Last week, he confirmed that account to the Portland Mercury, which first reported the charge being dropped. The prosecutor in the case, Jenna Plank, explained to the paper that "Following the issuance of this case additional material was obtained significantly impacting the question of whether the controlled substance at issue belonged to Mr. Mubarak and/or whether he knew it was in his vehicle when he was stopped by law enforcement ...

"After a subsequent review of all of the available information we determined that the facts did not support, certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt, that the controlled substances were either Mr. Mubarak's or that he knew they were in his vehicle (possessed them). Once that determination was made we promptly moved the court to dismiss the charge, as it would best serve the interests of justice, and the court granted our motion and dismissed the case."

Records released to the Tribune by the district attorney's office under Oregon's records law show additional details of the traffic stop as well as input received by District Attorney Rod Underhill's office.

After being stopped in a white 2016 Ford Escape, he reached into his glove box to retrieve his insurance papers, which is when one of the two officers said he saw a meth pipe. He told police he didn't know what the substance was, saying "that's not mine."

"Mubarak told me that the vehicle belongs to his wife," Officer Brent Taylor wrote in the report. "He also stated that sometimes he gives rides to other people so it could have been placed there by them."

Underhill received numerous letters from supporters of Mubarak. Several of them said he does not do drugs, noting his Muslim faith.

"Ibrahim Mubarak does not do illegal drugs," Alisa Christensen, president of the nonprofit Portland Burn Survivors, wrote on Sept. 1, for example. "Ibrahim has a 'no drugs, no paraphernalia' policy when transporting houseless people."

On Sept. 5, Mubarak's defense lawyer, Laura Douglas, emailed Plank, the prosecutor on the case, saying she would be introducing testimony from at least one witness that Mubarak earlier that night had been transporting homeless people whose camps had been swept.

"One of his friends who is homeless, Jeff, told us that he had left Mr. Mubarak's car because he was uncomfortable that Mr. Mubarak was letting people into the car that seemed sketchy — including the man who was seated in the passenger seat," Douglas wrote.

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