On February 23, after a hiatus of several months, the BORDC/DDF grassroots network convened on a conference call to share strategies, stories of success and challenges, and exchange ideas. The monthly calls are held on the 4th Wednesday of every month at 3 pm Eastern/noon Pacific time, and are open to everyone working to protect and advance civil liberties at the local level (sign up here to get on our invite list). They are a great opportunity to learn and get inspired (or inspire others!).
We were joined by two guests to brief us on the Stop TrumpIntelpro Campaign, which takes aim at local police participation in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). John Crew, a longtime civil liberties and police reform activist in the Bay Area, and Chris Mueller, representing Live Free/PICO Network explained that the campaign is just getting started, but it is envisioned as a way to expand the concept of sanctuary to include Muslims, communities of color, and dissidents. Just as “sanctuary” jurisdictions limit cooperation with ICE, this campaign would restrict local police participation in JTTFs. JTTFs are supposed to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism, but too often JTTFs confuse terrorism with the First Amendment-protected exercise of free speech, association, or religion. FBI agents do not need a factual basis or any evidence at all of terrorism or wrongdoing to launch an investigation using undercover agents or paid informants, conduct covert or overt interviews, search through government or commercial databases, infiltrate lawful groups, or dig through your trash.
Without rules to restrict them, JTTFs are routinely unfairly targeting Muslims, people of color, immigrants and political dissidents for surveillance, infiltration, investigation and harassment or “disruption strategies,” just like they did in the 1960’s and 70’s during COINTELPRO.
The campaign website has basic tools and information about the campaign, and we are working to build it out and find ways to connect people who want to participate.
After a rigorous discussion about the campaign and how it might be adopted locally by those on the call, we heard updates from several communities on their work. In Illinois for example, activists have secured the introduction of a bill to severely curtail the use of solitary confinement. In suburban Maryland, the civil rights coalition is burning it up at the state capitol, and in the small town of Decorah, IA, activists are working to pass a resolution repudiating the hostility and hatred aimed at Muslims in and beyond our community.