Portland, OR – The city of Portland says that it will withdraw from a FBI anti-terrorist task force because critics feel it targets Muslims and helps deport immigrants.
There is no evidence that this is occurring, but due to the confidential nature of their operations, the task force is unable to prove to city leaders that it’s not happening.
One critic is Commissioner-Elect Jo Ann Hardesty who will be sworn into office early in 2019. She has said that forcing Portland’s removal from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was one of her top priorities, according to The Oregonian.
Hardesty released a statement Tuesday that she intends to have the city withdraw due to “the fear of community members, especially recent immigrants and refugees, who feel targeted by federal agents.”
“At the end of the day we must listen to those most impacted by policy,” the statement said, according to The Oregonian. “Time and time again our leadership has been called to protect our fellow community members and remove ourselves from this agreement. Their request is unwavering and now is the time to listen and act.”
The Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force made world news in 2002 when it caught a group of American Muslims attempting to join Al Qaeda forces that became known as The Portland Seven, according to The Oregonian.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman, whom Hardesty is replacing, said Portland’s removal is all but a done deal.
By belonging to the anti-terrorism task force, Portland police have access to the FBI’s information on potential terrorist activities.
The city cut ties with the FBI task force in 2005, rejoined partly again in 2011 and then became full partners again in 2015, according to The Oregonian.
Portland City Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Chloe Eudaly both sided with Hardesty and told The Oregonian they both were also considering leaving the FBI’s anti-terrorism task force.
Fritz said FBI agents have assured the city’s leaders “they aren’t doing anything improper.” But Fritz said the agency is not transparent about what it is doing.
The lack of transparency in anti-terrorism investigations has allowed conspiracy theories about their operation to flourish.
“I would need to be convinced of reasons to stay in,” Fritz told The Oregonian.