[Ppnews] Paranoid Or Under Surveillance? Youth, Muslims Prime Targets of Anti-Gang, Anti-Terror Efforts

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 6 10:54:39 EDT 2011

Paranoid Or Under Surveillance? Youth, Muslims 
Prime Targets of Anti-Gang, Anti-Terror Efforts

Some see a growing convergence between law 
enforcement's potential use of the RICO Act, the 
JTTF and the demographics of our local community

Lisa Loving Of The Skanner News


May 05, 2011


Sen. Ron Wyden last week called for increasing 
use of the RICO law to stop gang activity in the Portland metro area.

Law enforcement and elected officials say drastic 
federal budget cuts could shut down gang 
resistance and outreach programs and that 
increased use of RICO laws against gang members are in order.

Meanwhile, Portland City Commissioners last week 
voted unanimously to rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
There is a sense in the community that these two 
developments are linked and that young Black 
males – including Muslim converts and anyone with 
any ties to gang activity – are set to be even 
more surveilled, spied on and entrapped by the 
FBI and Portland Police in the near future.

Community activist and Fire Frashour Campaign 
member Rahsaan Muhammad says there is a growing 
convergence between law enforcement's potential 
use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt 
Organizations Act (RICO), the JTTF and the demographics of our local community.

“If you check, statistically, religious 
conversions or acceptance in America, the number 
one religion that young Black males are leaving 
is Christianity, and the number one religion that 
they are joining is Islam,” Muhammad said. “So 
one of the greatest fears is that young Black 
males join Islam in all its different forms, 
creating a growing number of young men who will 
not be willing to go along with America’s wars against Islamic countries.”

It may sound like a conspiracy theory to some, 
but there’s no question that virtually every 
Oregon resident charged and convicted of 
terror-related crimes so far – and there are a 
surprising number -- has been either Black, or 
Muslim, or both. And certainly most of the 727 
people currently listed on the Portland Police gang list are people of color.

Police Broke Oregon Law By Targeting Activists Not Criminals

RICO laws, as well as the Patriot Act, both 
involve significant degrees of surveillance, and 
wide swaths of secrecy in government operations.

“There was a big wave when a lot of that RICO 
stuff first came out in the mid to late ‘90s, 
where the police did a whole sweep in Old 
Town-Chinatown with a bunch of young Black men, 
one of which was my cousin,” Muhammad said. “They 
were all secretly indicted for drug charges and 
then given some stiff sentences with regards to that.”

Muhammad’s comments reflect conversations going 
on in coffee shops and clubs all over the metro 
area: young African and African American people 
increasingly see themselves as being the 
scapegoats not just of local ‘get tough on crime’ 
efforts, but also federal terrorism units.

Members of the older generation – while not 
always willing to talk on the record – say the 
trend harks back to previous decades, when local 
officials collected intelligence on the Black 
Panthers and other community organizing groups.
As the Portland Tribune reported in 2002, retired 
Portland Police terrorism expert Winfield Falk 
was found to have stolen and stashed 851 
surveillance files dated from 1965 through the 
early 1980s that had been destined for shredding 
after it was confirmed that the city’s information gathering was illegal.

The files were compiled on members of the Black 
Panthers, Peoples Food Co-Op, and local elected officials, among many others.

Former Tribune reporter Ben Jacklet wrote, in the 
series of articles titled ‘The Secret Watchers,’ 
that law enforcement says that doesn’t happen anymore.

“But the spy files provide a cautionary tale in 
today’s post-Sept. 11 world. They show how 
intelligence gatherers can be seduced by their 
own political convictions. They show how watching 
one group leads to watching another, and then 
another. And they show how easy it is for secret 
files to take on a life of their own.”
The article continued:

“’People think surveillance will only be used 
against the bad people, but it never works like 
that,’ says Ron Herndon, a longtime activist in 
Portland’s Black community who was spied on for 
years. ‘When you give law enforcement the 
unfettered authority to snoop into people’s lives 
in the name of national security, it will be abused.’”
the article here

Muhammad notes that former Portland Police 
Officer Ron Frashour, who pulled the trigger that 
killed Aaron Campbell, is up for a new hearing 
next month in which he may be awarded his job 
back – one of many small factors that community 
members say shows police officers are not held accountable for wrongdoing.

Preventing Violent Crime Requires Programs for Kids

Sen. Ron Wyden last week said it is important for 
local citizens to get behind gang prevention 
programs that stand to be cut in the federal budget.

“The last stop that we made last night in the 
community, I believe it was at the market at the 
corner of 18th and Dekum, and a fellow came up 
and he was wearing colors, and there wasn’t much 
question in my mind that he was a gang member,” 
Wyden said. “And he said, Senator, if you’re 
serious about getting at this you’ve got to reach 
the kids. You’ve got to reach the kids that are four, five, six, seven.

“He basically said because by the time they’re 
10, you’re playing catch-up ball,” Wyden 
continued. “So in this community we’re going to 
have to marshall all our resources, federal, 
state, and local, to deal with this.”

One that’s on the chopping block is the Gang 
Resistance Education and Training Program, a 
model community policing institution that sends 
police officers into schools to work with young 
people and build positive relationships one-on-one.
GREAT also sponsors family events and parenting 
classes between law enforcement and immigrant 
Hispanic and Somali families in the Cully neighborhood.

The program’s national funding is being slashed 
from $25 million a few years ago to $10 million in next year’s federal budget.

Meanwhile, alleged Christmas bomber Mohamed 
Mohamud, who was born in Somalia, is scheduled 
for a ‘status and scheduling hearing’ May 23, 
after Judge Garr King in January rejected 
prosecutors’ efforts to schedule the teen’s 
terrorism trial for February of 2012.

Mohamud’s attorneys are expected to argue the 
former Oregon State University student was 
entrapped by FBI agents. He has pled not guilty in the case.

The City of Portland’s vote on the JTTF came 
after almost a decade of non-participation on the 
grounds that Oregon law forbids intelligence 
gathering on individuals not suspected of a crime.

The vote last week came after dozens of rewrites 
of the proposed guidelines for participation.

“The strong link – they had to have that young 
brother supposedly plotting to blow up the 
Christmas tree, and that was really at the heart 
of the talk that really in my opinion swayed some 
in the city of Portland to go this route,” Muhammad said.

The New York Times poked gentle fun of the final 
agreement as being “very Portland” for adding 
“inclusivity” language and being so filled with 
euphemisms that attorney Brandon Mayfield couldn’t understand it.

Mayfield is a Muslim lawyer who briefly 
represented the Portland Seven during their 
terrorism trial. His life was interrupted in 2004 
when a lone FBI agent in Portland wrongfully 
determined his fingerprints were found at the scene of a bombing in Madrid.

After an odyssey of surveillance of his family, 
intimidation, jail, and then a long legal 
process, Mayfield was exonerated and won a $2 
million settlement from the federal government.

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