Since 2017, Oregon PSR has been working with many other organizations on a campaign to end Portland’s cooperation with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The JTTF is a program of cooperation between local law enforcement and federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and others.
Allegedly, the JTTF collaboration is aimed at improving community safety and security. However, human and legal rights groups such as the ACLU assert that JTTF collaboration does nothing to improve overall community safety and, in fact, by profiling and targeting vulnerable communities, it makes individuals feel less safe to report crimes or concerns. Ending cooperation with the JTTF does not mean that the Portland police can never work with the FBI. Rather, collaboration would occur on a case-by-case basis when there is actual criminal activity suspected. Several statements about the concerns about JTTF can be found here and here.
The practices of the JTTF rely on racial profiling and surveillance based on a person’s religion, nation of origin, and political views. Muslims, immigrants, communities of color, and protesters tend to be the targets of this activity. This deliberate targeting very likely violates Oregon’s law against profiling (HB 2002 (2015), now ORS 131.920). Since the events of 9/11, JTTFs have ramped up their surveillance practices in many cities. Concerns about this intensified surveillance have only increased with the current administration’s xenophobic and racist rhetoric and actions.
Why the JTTF is of concern to healthcare workers
The federal agencies involved in the JTTF are all part of the increasing militarization of our systems of law enforcement. We know that such systems profile and target the most vulnerable in our communities, such as people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people. Militarized, secretive policing creates a climate of fear in our communities and thus makes us all less safe and less healthy.
The American Public Health Association, in its call for health equity, recently called for an end to policing violence. They stated that “We know that that fear environment influences our children, their health and well-being, influences their mental health, influences their actual growth. It results in early childhood trauma for those children who live in these communities in which people are afraid, so it's a big issue.” Collaborations such as the JTTF add to this climate of fear through secretive policing. Fear of targeting and surveillance fosters stress and trauma, which in turn cause or exacerbate a variety of health problems. Oregon PSR, along with other public health and human rights groups, believes that policing should be based on openness and transparency, community involvement, cultural competency, and restorative practices. In order to achieve this, Portland must end cooperation with the JTTF.
Oregon PSR joins with other organizations (see below for a full list) to call on Portland City Council to end cooperation with the JTTF to protect the civil liberties of all Oregonians.
To learn more about the JTTF, all are invited to a community forum hosted by newly elected Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and UniteOregon:
Wednesday, January 16th, 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Unite Oregon (700 North Killingsworth Street in Portland)
Stay tuned for a hearing and vote at the Portland City Council on this issue, which could come before the end of January. We’ll let you know the date as soon as we hear. We will want to fill the City Council chambers with community supporters who realize that safe communities are not surveilled communities.
Organizations and individuals who signed on to a letter in opposition of cooperation with the JTTF include:
ACLU of Oregon
Ainsworth United Church of Christ
Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition
Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights (AUPHR)
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Basic Rights Oregon
Chinese American Citizens Alliance Portland Chapter
Council on American-Islamic Relations of Oregon
Empower Portland Ad Hoc Committee
Freedom to Thrive
For Justice and Police Reform
Individuals for Justice
International Socialist Organization (Portland)
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Islamic Society of Greater Portland
Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland
League of Women Voters of Portland
NAACP Portland Branch
Network Against Racism and Islamophobia
Northwest Abortion Access Fund
Occupy ICE PDX
Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC)
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Oregon Progressive Party
Pacific Green Party
Peace Action Group of First Unitarian Church
Peace and Justice Works/Portland Copwatch
Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Portland Democratic Socialists of America
Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition
Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance
Portland Japanese American Citizens League
Portland Jobs with Justice
Portland National Lawyers Guild
Sisters of the Road
Veterans for Peace Chapter 72
Queer Liberation Front
Portland Peaceful Response Coalition
Eastside Democratic Club
Defending Rights & Dissent Washington DC (on behalf of their members in Portland)
Duell Wealth Preservation
Kafoury and McDougal