The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) suspended its participation in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) last month. JTTFs are counterterrorism-focused intelligence-sharing centers, and by the FBI’s count, it operates 104 across the country. Many interpreted the SFPD’s suspension as a reaction to President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban,” and to some degree it was. But it was also the culmination of a seven-year effort by community groups to hold the SFPD to the city’s legally codified standards of transparency and accountability. San Francisco’s success is a model for local resistance to Trump’s plans to mobilize the massive surveillance infrastructure he has inherited against targeted groups.
The Trump administration has more critics voicing concern about the OPD’s work alongside ICE and the FBI, in particular.
“There is an inherent danger built into local task forces that has become exponentially more dangerous under the Trump administration,” argued John Crew, a retired police-practices expert with the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re dealing with a federal government that has shown they cannot be trusted.”
President Donald Trump signed an executive order denying federal funding to sanctuary cities – jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. The order has serious constitutional problems. Unless interpreted very narrowly, it is both unconstitutional and a very dangerous precedent.
Trump and future presidents could use it to seriously undermine constitutional federalism by forcing dissenting cities and states to obey presidential dictates, even without authorization from Congress. The circumvention of Congress makes the order a threat to separation of powers, as well.
The United Nations' special rapporteur on privacy has lambasted a spate of new surveillance laws across Europe and the US, saying that there is "little or no evidence" that mass monitoring of communications works.
In a report published this week, Prof. Joseph Cannataci, the first privacy watchdog to take up the post, said he was neither convinced of the effectiveness or the proportionality "of some of the extremely privacy-intrusive measures that have been introduced by new surveillance laws."
One of the core aspects of Denver’s CVE initiative is outreach to disenfranchised communities like Black Lives Matter by a program coordinator hired especially for this purpose. This coordinator is supposed to “bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.” The “ideal candidate,” according to the proposal, will “already know the target community(ies) and possess political capital within the community(ies).”
This may be a difficult feat for the Denver Police Department given its long history of surveillance and intimidation of community organizers, activists, and protesters.
“What I get concerned about is where the plot is being hatched by the FBI,” said Michael German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and former FBI agent. “There has been a clear effort to manufacture plots.”
Law enforcement has increasingly used undercover agents and informants to develop such cases in recent years, especially against people suspected of being inspired by the Islamic State.
Trump claims his immigration crackdown is a way to keep Americans safe — that he isn’t interested in tearing apart families, just in stopping violent criminals. VOICE will give the Trump administration a stream of propaganda intended to reshape the image of undocumented immigrants in the minds of the American public, from one where these migrants are simply seeking a better future for their families to one where they are hardened criminals, ready to prey on innocent Americans.
That’s a big lie. The reality is that undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes in America than anyone else. And there are plenty of migrants who are not violent criminals who are being targeted by immigration enforcement. As a result, innocent people are fearful.
The FBI is investigating political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists.
The Guardian has established that multiple officers within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least three people tied to the Standing Rock “water protector” movement in North Dakota.
The purpose of the officers’ inquiries into Standing Rock, and scope of the task force’s work, remains unknown. Agency officials declined to comment. But the fact that the officers have even tried to communicate with activists is alarming to free-speech experts who argue that anti-terrorism agents have no business scrutinizing protesters.
Black activists have united this week, following the confirmation and swearing in of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a man they see as a fundamental threat to communities of color and to historic civil rights protections.
In statements released Wednesday and Thursday, the Movement for Black Lives, the NAACP and the National Urban League, among other groups, called confirmation of the longtime Republican senator from Alabama “terrifying,” “a scandal” and “a grave mistake.”
Last week, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) made national headlines by becoming the first department to break from a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), a longstanding partnership with the FBI that involves the collection of intelligence in the city. Now, a movement in the civil rights community wants police departments to take similar steps nationwide.
On Thursday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Asian Americans Advancing Justice, PICO and more than 10 other organizations launched the Stop Trump Intelligence Program, nicknamed TrumpIntelPro, to stop police from illegally surveilling and bullying vulnerable civilians — including Muslim-Americans, immigrants, and protesters. The coalition hopes to rein in other JTTFs before they collect intelligence on behalf of Trump and the FBI.
On Wednesday, San Francisco officers took a bold stance against Trump’s new immigration laws. In response to Trump’s Muslim ban, they are cutting ties between the police department and an FBI task force.
“When that confidence is shaken we have to slow down for a minute and make sure that the public sees us as an organization that they can trust,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott.
Since Trump’s election in November, nearly a dozen cities and counties — from progressive California to deep-red Alabama — have voted to adopt sanctuary city policies. Several more cities and an entire state are considering the move. Some cities that have long held sanctuary status are taking Trump to court, while others are creating legal defense funds and taking other measures to protect undocumented residents.
In the Democratic hotbed of Austin, Texas, newly elected Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced last Friday that her department would join hundreds of counties around the country in reducing its cooperation with federal immigration officials. Unless presented with a warrant or court order, the sheriff's department would no longer comply with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to hold inmates suspected of being undocumented or notify the agency ahead of their release.
Hernandez's decision, which goes into effect February 1 and makes the county Texas' first designated sanctuary, has prompted considerable backlash from Texas Republicans. And now, perhaps inspired by President Donald Trump's threats to strip federal funding from "sanctuary jurisdictions," Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has demanded that Hernandez reverse course—or risk millions of dollars in state funding.