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Repression Goes Local (6/02)

Portland, Oregon, received national attention last December when its police bureau refused a request by Attorney General John Ashcroft to question 200 locals of Arab descent. Justifying the refusal, Portland officials cited a state law that prohibits police from collecting information on any group or individual without a “reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior.”

Despite the feeding frenzy, mainstream media omitted some relevant background on the city’s decision: During City Council hearings two months earlier, a coalition of organizations had pointed out potential violations of that law by members of the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (PJTTF). Citizens were demanding that either the city implement independent oversight or reject PJTTF’s annual reinstatement. read more