Portland ditches the Joint Terrorism Task Force
Portland, OR – City council members voted to leave the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) on February 13. After months of town halls and rallies organized by councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty and activist groups in Portland, the amendment passed in a three to two vote. Mayor Ted Wheeler was one of the two voting to remain in the task force.
Before the vote, 150 community members gathered outside city hall to rally. Demonstrators help signs that read, “Immigrants are not terrorists” and “No JTTF.” Council members heard testimonies from 40 community leaders and activists before announcing their votes. Only four were in favor of the city continuing its involvement with the JTTF, three of whom were members of the Portland Police Bureau.
A common concern of those giving testimony was the use of the task force to target undocumented immigrants. Rabbi Ariel Stone of Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance stated, “We reject the federal government's persecution of those immigrants who are our neighbors, living in our midst.” The task force had a bad record of violating the city's sanctuary status and had worked with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The story of Jerome Aba, a Filipino activist detained and tortured in San Francisco, was recounted by a member of the International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. “The San Francisco government, which is not a member of the JTTF, passed a resolution asking for an independent investigation. We want you to follow their example and stand up for civil and human rights and leave the JTTF.” Customs and Border Patrol, also a member of the JTTF, detained Jerome Aba.
Portland is the second city, after San Francisco, to leave the JTTF. Oakland politicians are currently looking at passing an amendment to leave.