portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

human & civil rights | police / legal

JTTF Verdict is In: 4 to 1 say Pack Your Bags, Gestapo

After some very eloquent public testimony, the city council today took the historic first step in whacking our society out of its complacency in the face of creeping fascism. At approximately 8pm tonight, we became the first city in the nation to call off the dogs. I'm tired after a long day, and so I will try to make this brief.
Suffice to say, there is finally a real mayor in city hall. Tom Potter took the time, both before and after the hearing, to talk to many of the people who came tonight, and to let them know they have been heard. At several points in the evening, he reminded people that he is the police commissioner, and he takes that responsibility seriously. Unlike the previous mayor, it seems, he does not intend to sit idly by while a rogue police force tramples the civil rights of the people of Portland. In a short speech he gave as the vote was being tallied, Mr. Potter referenced the corporate media's fearmongering attempts to force him to continue to blindly cooperate with the JTTF. He said that a media person had told him that, "If anything happens in the city, I'm toast." Not that this thought hasn't crossed my mind, or the minds of those who would like nothing more than to sabotage the effort to rid ourselves of the JTTF. But Potter calmly reassured those present that "the way we protect ourselves, is to take care of each other."

Indeed. Take care of each other. Mutual aid. Solidarity. How refreshing to hear someone in public office make reference to the fact that we need not powerlessly wait for the government to save us from ourselves. Potter seemed very cognizant of the blistering he will likely take in the corporate media tomorrow. ("I can just see tomorrow's editorial," he said at one point.) But he stood his ground anyway.

Saltzman took quite a ribbing from many people who offered testinomy. It wasn't the fact that he was voting in opposition to the proposal they objected to, it was his shallow and transparent op ed piece in the Oregonian this morning. Almost everyone seems to have been as disgusted and I was by Saltzman's waving of the 9/11 banner and his callous use of the victims of that event to buttress his own political position. One man, a native New Yorker, took exception to Saltzman's attempt to speak for the people of New York in that article, when he ruminated over the hole in the ground where the WTC stood, and then stated, "It's difficult to imagine looking a New Yorker in the eye and explaining our rationale for withdrawing from the terror task force. It would feel disrespectful to even attempt to do so." The man admonished the commissioner for his impertinence. Saltzman later explained that he did not mean to speak for all New Yorkers, and then went on to remind us all what a horrible tragedy 9/11 was. Wow. Thanks for the reminder. apparently that had something to do with our need to remain affiliated with the PJTTF. Interestingly, he seems to have forgotten the fact that New York had its very own JTTF squad, at the time of the attack on the WTC, and that this did not prevent the attack. So much for that theory.

In any event, commissioners Leonard, Adams, and Sten (yes, Sten) voted with Mayor Potter, and the city is now set to pull out of the JTTF agreement, even if some lingering doubts still haunt the fine print.

thanks for the report, CatWoman 28.Apr.2005 22:44

regular reader

i was hoping you'd post something about this tonight! bad health kept me ornery and away, but this nugget of good news from you will send me to a contented sleep.

what a difference a mayor makes!

HAH! 28.Apr.2005 23:01

PDXer

Take THAT, Jordan!

Take THAT, Vera!

Take THAT, PBA!

Take THAT, Guisto!

Take THAT, BushCo

and Most-of-all,

Take THAT, Corporate Media!

The passage of this resolution is a definite defeat for the Corporate Media and their fear mongering propaganda. Good sense and Respect for REAL freedom overcame the LIES spread on TV, radio, and newsprint. KATU, the Oregonian, the PDX Tribune all have f'n egg on their face now. Sure enough, they'll shift and whine and maybe even threaten about this tomorrow, but the Victory is OURS no matter what they say.

I'M LAUGHING IN YOUR FACE, CORPORATE MEDIA!!!!!!!! AND SO ARE THE REST OF US WHO'VE BEEN FIGHTING THIS FOR YEARS NOW!!!

Victory! 29.Apr.2005 01:02

Clark

Potter for President!! (or at least governor)

All Around The Mulberry Bush.......... 29.Apr.2005 01:18

Ben Waiting

Let Freedom Ring
Thanks to the City Council
Thanks to all you suporters who helped with the grass roots issue in the passage of the Resolution
Thanks to Indy Posters for sharing the information with the world and our community
Thanks to all the citizens that spoke up at the meetings, did reasearch and stood up for justice
Thanks to The ACLU for their assistance and dedication to ensure our civil rights were protected
Thanks to all the ones that wrote city hall in-support of the descion to approve this Resolution
Thanks to all the insightful concerned citizens who have the courage to address this serious issue
Thanks to all of you we will still be safe and secure and most importantly closer to Honest Government
Thanks to Randy Leonard for all your hard work, concern to protect this city, true to heart
Freedom rings loud across the land tonight

do not celebrate too late into the night 29.Apr.2005 02:15

aunty fascista

I heard on the radio that homeland security is making a new approach through the state. They are creating networks with people in the fire department and so forth. They will make the case that they can fund departments cut in the budget crisis that has occured. So they are appealing to Fire Departments then they will appeal to other services that dea lwith the public like hospitals, state agencies and the sheriff as well as surrounding polices in Gresham, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Beaverton, Vancouver and so forth until they can make the Portland police irrelevent. They are like the Borg they will adapt to our tactics. As we think they will back off they are already working on plans b, c, d, e, f and so on. Ultamately I think we need to create a plan and action. One such plan might be to march down to Salem and talk to them directly saying "we do not want you here in our state let alone our cities".


Fire Service Day at the Capitol

From Bend.com news sources
Posted: Monday, April 25, 2005 1:25 PM
SALEM Fire chiefs and firefighters from around Oregon will converge on the State Capitol in Salem next Tuesday for "Fire Service Day at the Capitol." The annual event is designed to show off the state's fire agencies in front of the Legislature and give fire officials a day to visit with their representatives.

Throughout the day, fire equipment from Salem-area fire departments will be on display in front of the Capitol, and several state fire associations and training organizations will have static displays in the Capitol Galleria.

A highlight of this year's event will be the launch of a statewide fire safety campaign, which will take place on the Capitol's front steps at 10 a.m. The campaign, entitled "Home Fire Safety is Up to You!" was developed by the Oregon Life Safety Team, a coalition of fire and safety officials from throughout the state, supported by the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal. The campaign focuses on the problem of residential fires, where three out of every four Oregon structure fires occur and where the majority of fire injuries and deaths take place. A campaign kit has been delivered to every Oregon fire agency, giving them tools to educate communities on how to prevent the six leading causes of home fires, and raise awareness of the need for personal responsibility in fire prevention.
Speaking at the launch will be Oregon Director of Homeland Security Beverlee Stillwell and State Fire Marshal Nancy Orr.

At mid-morning, the day's opening of the House of Representatives session will be performed by the Oregon Fire Service Honor Guard and the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Pipes and Drums.

Contact Info: Contact: Tim Birr (503) 866-8151
 http://bend.com/news/ar_view.php?ar_id=22389

Proud to live in Portland 29.Apr.2005 06:43

Alan Graf info@nwcrc.org

What can I say. After spending years fighting for civil liberties (and continuing to do so--www.nwcrc.org) I have to say that

I love you Tom Potter, Randy Leonard, Sam Adams and Eric. You give me hope that somehow we will find a way to slow down or maybe even stop this ideological machine that is out of control

With Real Respect and Warmest Regards


Alan Graf
Director
Northwest Constitutional Rights Center
a project of the National Lawyers Guild

http://www.hippielawyer.com; www.nwcrc.org
503-241-0260
1020 SW Taylor St., Ste 230, Portland, Oregon 97205

I think it is worth reiterating... 29.Apr.2005 07:12

Pravda or Consequences

Our quest for dominance has only reinforced the notion that we can take whatever we want and that the ability to do so gives us the "natural" right to do so.

The FBI knew that individuals were involved in flight training of a weird nature and did nothing about it. One aircraft was circling the Pentagon (in a definite no-fly zone) and not a response to be seen.

GW sat on his ass for seven minutes trying to figure out what to do.

The CIA and FBI have cost us billions and we get killed anyway.

We don't want you and more importantly, we don't need you.

Thank you Mayor Potter and City Commissioners Leonard, Adams, and Sten on this issue.

Let them know 29.Apr.2005 11:30

activists all

Continue to email the Commissioners and the Mayor on this issue. Tell Saltzman where he's wrong and thank the other Commissioners and Mayor for taking a stand. The Mayor has a hotline to take your thoughts. Saltzman representative returned my email stating he supported oversight from the mayor then proceded to claim the Mayor already has sufficient oversight and top secret clearence. This is a herring as the Mayor's concern was founded in practical concerns over oversight of JTTF use of local police officers.

We need to continue on all fronts to end the spectatorship of our society and answer the social question not with wars of conquest but with social movements for free global societies. This means understanding capitalism and the society of power as well as the society of consumption, mass media and shadow government.

Just to Clarify Something 29.Apr.2005 11:50

CatWoman

Now that I'm not too tired to think, I really want to clear something up for Commissioner Saltzman, and anyone else who might be misled about the connection between 9/11 and the JTTF. I know I alluded to this before, but it seems that many people are still confused about this (especially those who read the Oregonian), so perhaps an extra moment with this is in order.

For the record, the JTTF would not have, and did not, protect the people of New York from the attack on the World Trade Center. Saltzman's attempt to connect the two issues was, to say the least, disingenuous. In point of fact, New York was the first city in the nation to institute a cooperative arrangement between federal and local law enforcement agencies. They did this way back in 1979. And it was this cozy deal that led to the birth of the nation's very first JTTF a few years later in, you guessed it, New York City. It is true that the federal government used the events of 9/11 to increase their reach into our private lives by demanding that all FBI offices immediately institute JTTFs across the nation. However, it is also true that 35 cities, INCLUDING New York, already had active JTTFs at the time of the attack on the WTC. And yet, the planes hit anyway. The flames leapt forth, the people burned, the buildings came tumbling down. All on the watch of the NYC JTTF.

So it remains for Mr. Saltzman to explain how participation in the PJTTF is expected to protect us from such terror, and why he referred to "looking into the eyes of a New Yorker" in his sappy op ed, when the people of New York received no protection whatsoever from their own experiences with the JTTF. For my part, I prefer Potter's solution: We protect ourselves by taking care of each other.



For a history of the JTTF from the horse's mouth, see  http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/fbi/joint_terrorism_tf.pdf. But don't believe everything you read.

Holy shit CatWoman! 29.Apr.2005 12:36

--

So Poor Mr. Sten finally decided to vote the way of his conscience?

Sten and his Conscience 29.Apr.2005 13:36

CatWoman

Well, I wasn't going to say this because I did not want to sound snotty. But I think one of my very favorite moments last night came when a woman began her testimony by thanking the mayor and commissioners Adams and Leonard for their part in this whole ordeal. She then turned to Saltzman and briefly admonished him for not seeing the light. When she got to Sten, though, she remarked, "Commissioner Sten, I'm so very grateful that you finally have good leadership." She went on to say, basically, that perhaps someday he will be able to actually make his own decisions all by himself.

And may it be so. May he finally put on his big boy pants and face the world on his own terms. When he does, I know he will do good work. His heart is in the right place, but damn, don't you just wanna choke the life right out of him sometimes? For those who were not there, Mr. Sten pulled an interesting twist on his usual about-face, in that he began his vote with a lengthy rumination about all the reasons why we must not withdraw from the JTTF, and how that's not at all what this proposal was all about...and then he voted to withdraw from the JTTF.

All right, now I'll stop picking on him for awhile. I think he really does mean well.

All right...ONE more thing. 29.Apr.2005 17:05

CatWoman

Man, it really bugs me when I write something when I'm way too tired. I keep having to come back and add stuff. Potter was actually even cooler than I gave him credit for above. In going back over the notes from last night, I realized that his actual quote was, "I think what will determine the safety of Portland citizens is when we work together, when we watch out for each other, and care for each other, that our society is safer."

See? That's way cooler. When's the last time you heard anyone in city hall talking about mutual aid like that?

Next election 29.Apr.2005 20:33

.

The panic-mongers will be all over Potter. We must start protecting our friends, effectively publicly, NOW!

Word------------ Don't step on us 29.Apr.2005 20:53

Michael b.

Potter is shaping up to be quite a mayor. I honestly feel that the path he's started down will lead to a de-escalation of local protest actions, and a greater trust that the public will be listened to. As for Vera Catz and her "I don't even know why he needed to do that." admonoshment of Potter. I think she's a self serving, back room dealing, liberal grrrrr. I just want to growl or something. The word traitor comes to mind. Hearing her speak brought to mind Clinton and the WTO.
I feel that if we act in a principled manner, and expect the same from our local representitives it seems we'll have an ally. I want to support somone that can rally leaders to make principled stands. I don't expect everything to fall our way, I just want to know some truth other than the partisian: so and so compromise "Is good enough for you" mentality I've seen so far. It's called democracy, and if our leaders don't like it they deserve the boot. That's right THE BOOT.
If potter wants to take other principled stands, there's a lot of trash in this city, and I'll be damned if I won't help take it out. I feel a little nervious advancing future missions cause those forces that fear "tyranny of the masses" will get organized. We won't have the element of suprise next time. To say it planely, it ain't the time to call our punches.
That said, I feel like it's safe to say that I know many that will fight for local democracy with potter, or any principled leader, as hard as we've fought the police in the past. It ain't about getting co-opted into the system. It is about community based democracy, and keeping your eye on the ball. Community control is the key. It's the word and the deed, for the struggle ahead.

take care,
Michael b

for those lover's of the USDOJ and the FBI, here's one to chew on 30.Apr.2005 13:31

I choked on this one

Your Tax Dollars At Work

A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION from: www.buzzflash.com (April 29, 2005)
by William Fisher

It's truly comforting to know that, even in the grip of post-9/11 paranoia, the G-men of the FBI are still using their resources efficiently.

If you have any doubts, just ask Steve Kurtz. He is living proof that your tax dollars are hard at work.

A year ago this month, Steve's wife, Hope, died of a heart attack in Buffalo, New York. Steve called 911. Police and emergency medical services responded.

What the police saw when they got to the Kurtz home, aside from Mrs. Kurtz's body and a distraught husband, were vials, bacterial cultures, and an assortment of laboratory equipment, including a mobile DNA extracting machine used for testing food products for genetic contamination.

Kurtz, an art professor at the University of Buffalo, explained to the police that these were some of the materials for an art exhibit he and his wife had been preparing on genetic modification. The Kurtzes were founders of an avant garde group called "The Critical Art Ensemble," a collective of "tactical media" protest and performance artists.

Kurtz told the cops his art has focused on the problems of the emergence of biotechnology, such as genetically modified food. He and the art ensemble have published several books including "Digital Resistance: Explorations in Tactical Media" and "Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas."

The police didn't buy his story. They called the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Before long, a team arrived from Quantico, Virginia, in full HAZMAT gear, and began searching and testing. Erie County health officials declared the Kurtz home a potential health risk and sealed it for two days while a state lab examined the bacterial cultures found inside. They confiscated Mrs. Kurtz's body, and Steve's computer, notebooks, art supplies and cat. They cordoned off the street, quarantined the Kurtz home, and took Steve to a hotel, where the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force questioned him for two days.

Meanwhile, the special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI office gave interviews to the press.

Officials declined to disclose what was examined and what was found. But the New York State Commissioner of Public Health tested samples from the home and announced there was no public safety threat. The FBI's own field and lab tests showed that the materials in Steve's house were not used for any illegal purpose. They concluded that the materials could not possibly be used for the manufacture of a 'bio-weapon' or any other weapon.

Steve was released and allowed to go home.

But your tax-dollars-at-work didn't stop there. Federal authorities obviously thought there must be something illegal in the Kurtz home, because prosecutors subsequently convened a grand jury, with Kurtz as its target. But instead of charging him with bioterrorism, he was indicted for mail and wire fraud, charges normally used against those defrauding others of money or property, as in telemarketing schemes.

Also indicted was Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health, who helped Kurtz obtain the $256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of his art projects.

Now, the FBI is once again seeking charges under the US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, as expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act -- charges which a previous grand jury appeared to reject last summer when they handed down indictments for mail and wire fraud. There has been no decision from the grand jury as yet.

Kurtz's lawyer has moved to have all charges dismissed, and no trial date has yet been set.

But, while Kurtz and Ferrell await trial -- and try to raise money for their legal defense fund -- FBI agents have been using your tax dollars to talk with everyone ever connected with Kurtz -- museum curators in Massachusetts and the state of Washington, colleagues in New York and California, current students at Buffalo -- maybe even the cat.

The Justice Department will not comment on the case. Supporters say the government is trying "to make their own initial overreaction to the confused call for help from the first responders seem anything but foolish overkill."

Now, I've never seen any of the Kurtz art. I might hate it. But it's a stretch to think I would end up being poisoned by it.

Feel better now?

A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION

Sources:

The Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund

"Forum: The paranoid persecution of Steve Kurtz," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2005

"Saying No to the prosecutor: Why Steve Kurtz's colleagues refused to testify to the grand jury," Buffalo Report, June 20, 2004

to catwoman 02.May.2005 21:22

susan in nyc

Hi Catwoman,

I am writing a story about this for the Indypendent in NYC. Would you email me? I'm at srcnyc at bway.net.

Thanks!

Susan