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After 9/11: A Forum on Civil Liberties & Social Justice

Definition of Terrorism: A systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments.

"i'm sick of all the false glory "in god we trust'... and if you break my will, i will come back again and destroy everything you stood for"
the boys in LIVE
Almost a year after the event on September 11th, 2001, and things are looking bleak for those of us who are either glaringly aware of our rights or very quickly educating ourselves of them. I fall into the latter catagory so my retention of information bordered on overload. I came in late to Andrea Meyers' (Legislative Director, ACLU Oregon) talk. An unfortunate thing, as she was very concise on the stuff i did get, primarily the patriot act, and the fact that if, indeed there is a file on a certain individual, let's say, oh, me for example, that even FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests could turn up with a "We're sorry, there is no file for that person" response due to the way that they will name a file. Could be anything from your birthday, or a date you were seen somewhere. Who knows. Known, high profile activists have gotten the "Sorry..." response.

Back to the Patriot Act - which, little known to me, is an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Here is the Center for Constitutional Rights deconstruction of it.
Far more eloquesnt than i would ever be.
 http://www.ccr-ny.org/whatsnew/usa_patriot_act.asp

Of the most affecting talks one was by Gulzar Ahmed, President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Muslim Alliance. He addressed some statistics gathered in a poll done by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR  http://www.cair-net.org/). Of the ones I was able to record: 57% of American Muslims have experienced bias or discrimination due to their name or their faith. 87% knew or knew of a person of Muslim faith who had experienced bias or discrimination. 49% felt that their lives had changed for the worse. Muslims in America have faced their highest unemployment rate since Sept. 11, and the incidents of workplace discrimination have risen. And it does gets worse: of the mainstream media news, FOX NEWS in the lead with the most biased coverage. (pathetic!) The others were somewhat less so... On the positive side, however, 97% have experienced kindness and support from those of other faiths. Yay..., but it's not enough.

Another very moving talk was given by Chris Preucil, Founding Board Member of Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment. She is also a spokesperson for EarthFirst!, which she addressed in the forum. She told Judi Bari's story.
 http://www.judibari.org/. The audience cheered. 'Nuff said..

Finally, we broke into smaller workgroups, mine was led by Dan Handelman of Copwatch ( http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/) and Kathleen Jurgen (sp? Forgive me, Kathleen) who has the honor of leading the absolute best chant at a Demonstration ever . Our topic, not surprisingly, was the renewal of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Another unknown (to me...) fact: there are Terrorism Task Forces set up attached to each US Attorneys' office. That total would be 93. My head just spun. 93 Anti Terrorism Task Forces. Where have i been? So here they all are: US Attorney's offices:  http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/offices/index.html 93 of 'em.

"...Attorney General John D. Ashcroft has directed every U. S. Attorney district to establish an Anti-Terrorism Task Force. These task forces will coordinate the dissemination of information and the development of investigative and prosecutive strategy in dealing with terrorism throughout the country. The formation of these task forces provides the operational foundation for a concerted national assault against terrorism." From a press release dated September 18, 2001, issued fromJim Letten, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Or discussion centered around the fact that the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force is up for renewal. We talked about how education is our best defense. Many people who have not yet been affected by the crackdown on our rights are as yet unaware what it could mean for them. Perhaps they were not at the August 22nd fiasco but, say, their daughter was and got pepper sprayed or hit. Brings it right home, huh? Education. Outreach. We thought it would be a grand idea to have so many people turn out on, ready? SEPTEMBER 19th, at 2:00pm. City Council Chambers. We discussed some event as well. Check this site for more info coming up.

Oh! By the way! Here's some background on last years one:

Police Chief Mark Kroeker's opinion:  http://www.portlandpolicebureau.com/interviews.html

Testimony of David Fidanque, Executive Director. Portland ACLU from 2001 PJTTF renewal:
 http://www.aclu-or.org/issues/terrorism/PJTTFtestimony9_26_01.htm
A great forum, encore please! 25.Aug.2002 19:03

Will

Many thanks to the organizers and participants in this forum. It is my impression, perhaps naive, that if more US citizens knew the true character of the PATRIOT ACT and the other moves by the Bush administration (with full cooperation from many Democrats) to further tranform our country into a police state, there would be widespread, active dissent. I hope those dedicated activists who put this forum together, exhausted though they may be, will continue this excellent and essential work. Again, thank you!

Great article xivcam! 26.Aug.2002 10:05

Jayson

That was a great summary of the events and presentations at the Civil Liberties forum. I would personally have liked to have seen more people in attendance, but I feel there was not a great deal of publicity about the event beforehand. (I could be wrong...) The forum (and the August 22 police riot) really got my juices flowing in regard to what I will be doing with my future to protect my own rights and those of others, both in the city of Portland and wherever I go in the US. I made several important contacts at both events which I hope to expand in the coming weeks, months and years. One of the biggest things that EVERYONE in Portland should consider is being a part of our efforts to convince the Mayor and Portland City Council of the utter absurdity of renewing the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force on September 19 at City Hall. All you have to do to exercise 2 glorious minutes of free speech on this charged issue is sign up at City Hall just prior to the hearings. One used to be able to afford 3 whole minutes of free speech at City Hall until last year's JTTF hearings when the Mayor changed her mind and reduced it to 2. Perhaps she will try to reduce it again this year. How does 60 seconds of free speech sound? Would that be valuable to you? You: "Thank you Madame Mayor, for the opportunity to speak today on this important issue." Mayor Katz: "Thank you. Your time's up. We've heard all this before." (Sound of clunking rubber stamp.) When I first learned of the 2 minute limit, I was obviously concerned with the limitations that this imposes upon the chance to explain 80 or 90 years of abuse of freedom and democracy heaped upon our nation by the FBI. However, after thinking about it a little, I plan to pack as much vitriol and sarcasm into my 2 minutes as possible. I plan also to type my presentation up so I will not be distracted by the pressure on that day. Perhaps you might the same or similar. I would give anything to see an overwhelming response, a HUGE line of people lined up to speak, on September 19. I hope to see YOU there, friends and neighbors in Portland, to add your voice to the growing litany of complaints about the secretive police state that our city is becoming (has become?). I hope beyond hope that the Mayor and City Council will see the light and be among the first to preemptively edit the future history of our city and nation. When the chapter on the FBI and the many Joint Terrorism Task Forces is written, I hope it will read that Portland took the heroic first step to tell the FBI where to stick it when they want to spy on the citizens of our city. Great work also during the police riot of August 22! The only violence I saw was from a bunch of lunatical black-clad anarchists of the Portland Police Bureau, and I for one am glad I was there to witness the truth and not the lies and slanders heaped upon a peaceful protest by most of the local and national media! Long story short: A "state of emergency" was called because GWB's invited johns (and johnettes) could not make it through the crowd to pay their exhorbitant bribes to GW and Senator Gordon Smith. "The horror! Get those freaks out of the WAY so our money can get through!!" Cheers and best wishes for a free and open city and nation in the years to come.

save the Bill of Rights! 29.Aug.2002 15:56

anon

Yes, attend the City Council meeting. PLEASE!!!

Also check out  http://portland-or.bordc.org
It's great that Portland is working to save the rights of its citizens!