Pressure is growing for the City Council to end Portland police cooperation with all federal law enforcement organizations, including the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. The issue is being fueled by the ongoing controversy over the 58 Portland officers who were federally deputized ahead of dueling political protests on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Five people testified against further cooperation with the JTTF before the council on Wednesday, Oct. 7. They included Brandon Mayfield, the local Muslim lawyer who was illegally spied on and arrested by the FBI in 2004, resulting in a $2 million settlement.
Mayfield criticized the U.S. Department of Justice for deputizing the Portland officers through the end of the year. Mayor Ted Wheeler, who oversees the Portland Police Bureau, said he and Police Chief Chuck Lovell were not told the officers were being deputized and have told the federal government that they no longer are.
The testimony was part of an organized Campaign to End Cooperation with Joint Terrorism Task Force. It also released a letter calling for the council to end all cooperation with the JTTF and better document contacts with it, signed by 32 organization and three individuals.
The letter noted that the council had passed a resolution prohibiting the police from cooperating with federal law enforcement agencies participating in "Operation Diligent Valor," which was launched by the U.S. Department of Justice during the ongoing racial justice protests. The letter noted that several of those agencies are part of the JTTF.
"Therefore, ending cooperation with militarized federal police is incomplete unless the city also ends cooperation with the JTTF," the letter said.
The next day, Wednesday, Oct. 7, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer announced he will file legislation in the coming days that would rein in the deputation authority of the U.S. Marshals Service and ensure that local officials maintain control over police officers that are sworn to serve their own communities. The Keep Law Enforcement Local Act will limit the authority of the U.S. Marshals Service to deputize local law enforcement officers unless consent is received from local government and specifies that they may withdraw consent at any time, at which point the deputation status would be terminated, the announcement read.
"The federal deputization of dozens of Portland police officers never should have been allowed to happen, especially with this lawless administration. What's even more disturbing, however, is the fact that this deputization could last months against the wishes of local authorities," Blumenauer said. "My legislation will ensure that police can't patrol our city as federal agents when local leaders have made clear that such overreach is unacceptable."
In addition to Mayflield, those who testified before the council included: Marleen Wallingford, Portland Japanese American Citizens League; Brian King, Portland Democratic Socialists of America; Seemab Hussaini, Council on American Islamic Relations of Oregon; and Pastor Lynne Smouse Lopez, Ainsworth United Church of Christ.
Among those signing the Oct. 5 letter were: ACLU of Oregon, Portland Democratic Socialists of America, Peace and Justice Works/Portland Copwatch, League of Women Voters of Portland, First Unitarian Church of Portland, Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition and Latino Network.
The letter can be found here..
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