civil liberties

Oregonian Article on Our Protest v. Police Spy Cams

Protesters gather to oppose Portland police plan for video surveillance cameras

May 09, 2012
Maxine Bernstein

The Oregon Progressive Party is protesting the Portland Police Bureau's proposal to place video surveillance cameras on private property in Old Town to help monitor drug deals.

Roberto Lovato"Instead of spying on our citizens and creating a police surveillance state in the vein of Orwell's 'Big Brother,' the PPB should be using their limited resources in prevention and treatment, not adding another weapon to the failed War on Drugs," said Phillip Kauffman, Oregon Progressive Party state council member.

About 20 people came to protest outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the mayor pulled the item from the morning's council agenda, and referred it back to his office. Last week, Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he wouldn't support the program unless Chief Mike Reese adopted protocol restricting the camera's use and stating the consequences of any misuse.

The chief has said the cameras, which can "pan, tilt and zoom," would focus on public spaces and the images could be monitored by officers' smartphones, mobile computers in their cars or laptops. He said the surveillance could be helpful in aiding police in drug and gang enforcement.

Roberto Lovato, among the protesters, said he had hoped the demonstration would put pressure on the mayor to halt the plan. "If they get the OK to put them up in Old Town and Chinatown, they'll put them everywhere," Lovato said.

The chief's proposal to hold private property owners harmless from any liability that might arise from the installation of the police cameras on their buildings had been placed on the council's consent agenda two weeks ago as an emergency ordinance.

Portland Copwatch objected, and it was pulled off the consent agenda last week and placed on the regular agenda last week allowing for council discussion. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon also has opposed the police plan, saying the surveillance is ineffective and a waste of resources.

The Citizens Crime Commission supports the proposal, saying it will increase security for area businesses and help police enforcement of street-level drug dealing in Old Town Chinatown.

Congress approves further restrictions on free speech, assembly

In a further assault on first amendment rights, the American Congress approved H.R. 347: Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. When it comes to civil liberties, all to often the Republicans and Democrats stand together to place new and unconstitutional restrictions on the right of people to speak and to assemble. Note that in the House, all of Oregon's congressional delegation except Suzanne Bonamici voted in favor; in the Senate there was a voice vote by Unanimous Consent and no record was kept. Rep Bonamici voted yes on the measure which adopted the Senate version of the law, thereby allowing the House to vote. She did not vote on the final bill. The bill has gone to President Obama for his signature.

Party Secretary Greg Kafoury on Civil Liberties under Obama

Host David Delk interviews Portland attorney Greg Kafoury on the status of American civil liberties under President Bush v under President Obama. Greg Kafoury finds they are worst under Obama and that the opposition which Bush generated to his policies have not materialized, even as the Bush policies have continued and the status of civil liberties has deteriorated under Obama.

Open Letter to City Council Opposing the JTTF in Portland

The Portland City Council needs to hear from YOU. Please use the text of the letter we sent to the Commissioners today, and the key points listed after the letter, as a guide to composing your own letter telling the City Council to vote NO on the JTTF. Contact info for each commissioner and the city attorney is below our letter. Send your letter by email now!

Dear Mayor Adams and City Council Commissioners,

We write you with serious concerns about the possibility that Portland City Council may vote to expand the presence of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in our community.  Fundamental questions have not been answered, and legitimate concerns have not been adequately addressed.

How will assigning Portland Police officers to the JTTF benefit the Portland community?

Portland already suffers from lack of funds for social services.  We see schools (and police stations) closing and fewer facilities providing social services for larger areas with less resources at their disposal.  Rather than assign these officers to the JTTF and open up our city agencies and offices to the FBI, we should be investing our tax dollars and community resources into expanding and strengthening social services for the benefit of our community.

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