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Portland City Council votes to leave Joint Terrorism Task Force

After a long and complicated history with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Portland City Council voted Wednesday to discontinue the partnership.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland City Council on Wednesday passed a resolution to withdraw from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The JTTF is a partnership between federal and local law enforcement in cities across the country that focuses on threats of violence and terrorism.

Portland is the second major city, following San Francisco, to cut ties with its FBI task force.

Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty, Amanda Fritz and Chloe Eudaly voted for the resolution to withdraw. Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish voted against it. 

Hardesty expressed her opposition to the task force ahead of the vote with a rally. An outspoken critic of the task force, she says it targets political activists. 

"We are not safer having Portland police working in secret with federal agencies that are attempting to re-write the lived experiences of Black people and other communities of color," Hardesty said on Monday. "Immigrants and refugees deserve to feel safe from over-policing and overreach by our federal government. Nothing about the JTTF makes that possible."

Hardesty, Portland's newest commissioner, said she's thrilled to fulfill a campaign promise. 

"I think what we showed today is that Portland is really about making sure that everybody feels safe in their local community," Hardesty said.

Watch: Hardesty reacts to vote

Other critics said the task force gathers information to help the federal government target undocumented immigrants.

The Oregonian: A look at Portland's involvement in the JTTF

Portland Commissioner Nick Fish said there’s no evidence of that and he voted for Portland to continue the partnership.

“I’d rather have our values at the table than to have the FBI continue without our supervision,” he said.

Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw also supported staying in the JTTF.

"I believe that removing Portland police officers from the JTTF is a disservice to our community and not in the best interest of our city’s public safety," she said in a Tweet on Tuesday.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon released the following statement in response to the city council vote:

The FBI's mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. With the withdrawal of the city of Portland from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, that mission doesn't change.

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. 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.

Robust discussions about law enforcement's role in our society are valuable. Recognizing the fears that exist in the community, we will continue to visit with community leaders and work together to keep Oregon safe while addressing those factors that can drive a wedge between us.

I want the people of Oregon to know that the men and women of the FBI do their work with the utmost respect for and adherence to our shared Constitutional protections that allow us to speak, gather and worship freely no matter who we are or where we come from. I thank them for the work they do every day, and I thank the Portland Police officers who have joined us the past few years for their work in keeping our shared community safe.

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