Faith and Civil Rights Groups Welcome Oakland’s Historic New Law Protecting Against FBI Abuses

Law Takes Immediate Effect

Yesterday evening, Oakland reaffirmed its commitment to protecting its Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities from the Trump administration’s abuses by unanimously enacting a simple, yet powerful law that requires Oakland police officers to follow state and local law and policy when working on federal task forces.

The “Transparency and Accountability for City Participation in Federal Surveillance Operations” ordinance, which went into immediate effect last night, will ensure that Oakland Police Department officers assigned to federal task forces such as the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (“JTTF”) follow the same state and local laws adhered to by the rest of their Department, rather than the looser and highly problematic FBI guidelines.

The law, which was sponsored by Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, has passed through every stage with unanimous support. It was modeled after the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights ordinance, and is now the second of its kind in the country.

“This timely and critically-needed law is a win for Oakland in every way,” said Christina Sinha, National Security and Civil Rights Program Manager and Staff Attorney at Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “It protects many targeted Oaklanders, gives the City more control of its own officers, and increases public safety by strengthening police-community relations.”

“Oaklanders have been increasingly concerned over civil rights abuses from the Trump administration’s FBI,” said Sameena Usman, Government Relations Coordinator for the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “A unanimous vote from the Oakland City Council sends a strong message that they hear community concerns loud and clear and will work to make sure protections are in place from such abuses.”

“Since the inception of the first citizens’ municipal Privacy Commission in Oakland, Councilmember McElhaney and the City Council have consistently acted upon the concerns raised around surveillance equipment, collection of citizens’ data, and law enforcement practices,” said Brian Hofer, Chair of Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission and a member of Oakland Privacy. “Yesterday was another link in the self -defense chain of civil liberties protections endorsed by our city council.”

“We have a moral obligation to continue to protect our communities from Trump’s scapegoating law and order agenda,” said Pastor Michael McBride, the National Director for the Urban Strategies/LIVE FREE Campaign with the PICO National Network. “This is one step of many every community must take in these perilous times.”