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Portland police to rejoin FBI task force on terrorism

The Portland City Council, despite strong concerns about potential civil liberties violations, formally agreed Wednesday to have the Portland Police Bureau resume working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

By a 3-2 vote, the council approved a a memorandum of understanding that commits the city to resume collaborating with the FBI-led task force, by assigning two Portland police officers to work under its direction.

Mayor Charlie Hales, who once opposed Portland’s involvement in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, reversed course and supported the move, along with City Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish.

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick voted against the idea. The ACLU of Oregon and other civil rights advocates also opposed the move, citing potential rights abuses by the FBI and concerns that Portland police might be required to act contrary to the city’s values.

Fritz said the FBI’s definition of terrorism, which includes efforts to influence government via coercion or intimidation, is so expansive it might encompass actions by protesters or corporations. She cited fears the FBI-led task force will trample on citizens rights, and that Portland police serving on the task force would be obliged to work at the federal agency’s behest.

Hales said he will rethink the city’s role in the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the future if some of opponents’ fears are realized.

stevelaw@portlandtribune.com

503-546-5139

@SteveLawTrib

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