PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The Portland City Council Wednesday voted to withdraw from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between the FBI and the City of Portland to crack down on terrorism.
The contentious decision came to light after lengthy public testimony.
It ultimately passed three to two with Commissioners Amanda Fritz, Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly voting to withdraw, while Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish voted to stay in the task force.
Nearly 40 people signed up for public comment Wednesday, with most of them wanting to withdraw from the JTTF. A group held a rally outside City Hall calling for the withdrawal.
Many at the rally said the FBI has a history of violating civil rights as well as Oregon law and unfairly targets minority and activist groups.
“I believe we are safest when communities are connected to each other and the government,” Eudaly said. “Both perception and action of JTTF undermine this trust and therefore cannot make us safe.”
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Fish stressed the importance of staying in the task force so the city is not excluded from day-to-day information from other agencies, and so police can keep the community safe.
“We benefit as a community by having our law enforcement partners actively communicating with each other and working together so long as there are real accountability measures in place,” Wheeler said.
After the vote, FOX 12 spoke with people who both agreed and disagreed with the move.
“I hope it protects the rights of the minorities, especially from my perspective, that it protects the immigrant community and it’s just one step closer to getting ICE out of Portland,” Aimee Sitarz with Occupy ICE PDX said.
Randie Peterson, a Portland resident, said he agreed with Wheeler and Fish.
“There’s something lost there, but also with the good intentions of the City Council and the people of Portland, I’m hoping that we can overcome this shortfall and make ourselves better,” Peterson said.
The FBI released a statement after commissioners decided to leave the task force thanking local law enforcement and Portland police for keeping the community safe.
The FBI said in their statement that the Portland City Council’s decision doesn’t change their mission to protect the American people.
“The agents, analysts, language specialists, legal experts and other professional staff of the FBI who work every day to keep our community safe will continue to do so, addressing threats of violence and criminal activity that impact our neighborhoods,” the statement reads, in part. “To this end, the FBI will continue to partner formally with other members of the JTTF as well as informally with cities and counties across the state to share information and address threats as appropriate.”
The decision from the City Council should go into effect within 60 days.
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