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Don’t Shoot PDX Hires Attorney Over DOJ Surveillance

Friday, November 13, 2015

 

Bronson James; via Bronson James' website

GoLocal has learned that Don’t Shoot PDX, a group of activists in Portland affiliated with the national “Black Lives Matter” movement, has hired attorney Bronson James to represent the organization against the Oregon Department of Justice over their surveillance of Portland residents using the #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter.

In an interview with GoLocal, James said that he was hired to protect and defend the organization against surveillance and other possible civil rights violations.

"There are some questions that need to be answered," James said. "We need to find out whether this was an isolated incident or an ongoing action. Whether this was someone doing something on their own or following an authorized directive from the Department of Justice. This is a very serious matter and those questions need answers before we can go forward."

In a statement announcing the hire, Don't Shoot PDX said that "what the Oregon DOJ did was illegal under Oregon statute."

“Don’t Shoot Portland has engaged the services of Bronson James, a Portland attorney, to represent the organization and deal with the Oregon DOJ on this issue,” the post reads. “Don’t Shoot Portland members, and supportive activists, are encouraged to continue to use social media to organize. What the Oregon DOJ did was illegal under Oregon statute. It is imperative that illegal activity like this not be used to silence speech. This situation is currently very fluid. Further information will be disseminated as it becomes available.”

As GoLocal reported, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum admitted that an investigator with the Oregon Department of Justice used an online search tool to surveil those that used the hashtag. She has launched an HR investigation, as well as an investigation by Carolyn Walker, an attorney with Stoel Rives LLP, who will serve as a “Special Assistant Attorney General.”

Read Don’t Shoot PDX’s full statement regarding the hire below:

On November 10, 2015 we became aware that an attorney with the Criminal Justice Division of the Oregon Department of Justice had been conducting data surveillance on at least one individual using the hash tag #‎BlackLiveMatter, and using that information to create a “threat assessment.” Since that time we have been in close communication with the highest levels of the Oregon DOJ, as well as other interest groups such as the Oregon ACLU.

At this point, Ellen Rosenblum has condemned the actions of this (currently unnamed) employee and placed that individual on paid leave pending an investigation. In addition, an outside auditor is being brought in to investigate the Criminal Justice Division. We are involved in this process and have open lines of communication for input into this audit. We hope this audit will address the lingering questions. Was this DOJ employee acting alone, or at agency direction? Was there federal involvement? Has other social media data gathering happened, and if so, how extensive and pervasive is this practice? Who has been targeted? And beyond social media, is there a contingent within Oregon DOJ that believe that Oregonians who believe that black lives matter pose a “threat”? All of these are question we are hoping to get answered in the weeks and months ahead.

Don’t Shoot Portland has engaged the services of Bronson James, a Portland attorney, to represent the organization and deal with the Oregon DOJ on this issue. Don’t Shoot Portland members, and supportive activists, are encouraged to continue to use social media to organize. What the Oregon DOJ did was illegal under Oregon statute. It is imperative that illegal activity like this not be used to silence speech. This situation is currently very fluid. Further information will be disseminated as it becomes available.

 

Related Slideshow: Oregon Black Pioneers Exhibition Opening at Oregon Historical Society

The Oregon Black Pioneers have partnered with the Oregon Historical Society to present a Community on the Move, an in-depth exhibit about the impact of WWII Shipyards, the Vanport Flood, and urban renewal programs on Portland-area black families and businesses in the 1940s and 50s.

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A Community on the Move

A Community On The Move aims to show the connection between past local policies and present issues within the Portland African American community. 

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10th Annual Les Femmes Debutante Ball,

Photo Credit: The Oregonian (image cropped) 

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1943 Ninie Mae Locke dressed for work.

Photo Credit: City of Portland (image cropped) 

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Vanport Floating Housing 

Photo Credit: Thomas Robinson (image cropped) 

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Easter at Bethal A.M.E. Church 

Photo Credit: Portland State University (image cropped) 

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Oregon Black Pioneers

The state’s premier Black heritage organization is dedicated to illuminating African Americans’ contributions to Oregon’s history through research, publications, exhibits, and community outreach. The organization’s newest exhibition, A Community on the Move, directly builds on two highly successful collaborations with the Oregon Historical Society and reflects the all-volunteer organization’s increasing capacity to create meaningful opportunities for community dialogue and learning.

Launching Tuskegee Victory Ship, 1946

Photo Credit: Oregon Historical Society (image cropped) 

 
 

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