Flying Focus Video Collective

January 2002 Newsletter

Timely "Joint Terrorism Task Force" Program Raises Civil Liberties Issues

On November 22, 2000, Portland's City Council passed an ordinance formalizing the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (PJTTF). The PJTTF combines the Portland Police Bureau's eight-member Criminal Intelligence Unit with the FBI and members of several other law enforcement agencies, deputizing the officers to give them clearance to work on "terrorism" investigations. Note that this Task Force was in place long before September 11, 2001.

In our program "Is Portland's 'Joint Terrorism Task Force' Necessary?" (VB #40.11) we show the FBI testifying before City Council. The FBI agent stated that using violence or intimidation against businesses is one sort of "terrorist" activity they might investigate. Given recent anti-globalization demonstrations, not to mention Portland's pro-labor May Day 2000 march to Powell's Books, it seems the task force might not be limited to the criminal activities usually associated with terrorism. In fact, the original ordinance, heard at Council, specified the PJTTF should target "left wing and right wing movements...the Earth Liberation Front [and the] Animal Liberation Front," indicating its real mission was to investigate political movements and organizations, not specific crimes.

On the show, a labor organizer, an environmentalist, a history teacher, and a civil rights activist weigh in on the PJTTF, speaking about the FBI's past history of spying on law-abiding citizens for expressing their political ideas. They each talk about how activism is affected by police spying.

The ordinance was slated to expire on September 30, 2001. Despite the horrendous attacks in New York and Washington, DC, dozens of community organizers from many "mainstream" activist groups came out to express their concerns about the PJTTF. While it was ultimately renewed, the message that part of our nation's democracy and security includes the right to peaceably assemble without being monitored by the government was heard loud and clear. The issues raised on this tape are among the reasons the City cited as to why they refused to interview 23 immigrants who were not suspected of any criminal activity in November.

Avoid Mainstream Media Distraction

Media lecturer and conflict management specialist Amanda Byron presented a workshop for the Oregon Peace Institute in May, 2000 titled "Weapons of Mass Distraction," referring to biases in the mainstream media. For our two-part program (VB #40.8&9), we added the subtitle "Media Literacy, Gender and Violence."

While most of the images analyzed are from magazines, Ms. Byron points out that the same stereotypes, violent images and marketing tools are used in other forms of media including TV. The participatory comments made by those who attended the workshop support and expand on some of Byron's ideas.

"War On Terrorism" Mobilizes Portland Peace March

Peace activists in Portland pleaded with their fellow Americans to find solutions other than retaliation to the September attacks, including the use of international courts to bring the perpetrators to justice. When bombs began to fall on Afghanistan, over 400 people came to an emergency demonstration. Some of the speaking, marching, and comments from organizers featured on "Peace Through Justice" (VB #41.5) give a voice for hope in this turbulent time. This was the first program taped and edited for Flying Focus by independent documentarian Lindsey Goodwin-Grayzel.

For more information on the peace movement's response to 9-11 and the "War on Terrorism" contact Peace and Justice Works at or (503) 236-3065; or Portland Peaceful Response at their web site or (503) 223-1399.


Call for Volunteer Editors

Flying Focus has a great deal of raw tape from a number of events (including conferences about the "war on terrorism" and reducing global debt) that needs to be edited. If you have editing skills, are ceritifed at Portland Cable Access (PCA) or can challenge their editing class, and would be interested in helping us produce our weekly half-hour show on social change issues, please call us. We need you!


Rossell Blows the Whistle On OHSU

Matt Rossell is the former lab technician at Oregon Health Sciences University's Primate Center who exposed their cruel practices toward the monkeys they use for research. In "Matt Rossell Exposes Animal Abuse" (VB #40.5&6) we taped Matt at the Hollywood Theatre speaking about his attempts to improve conditions for the monkeys and his decision to quit in a very vocal way when those attempts were ignored and dismissed. This program includes some of the disturbing undercover footage that he took of the monkeys in their cramped, barren prison-like environments before he left.

Matt's disclosures started a chain of events that have led to communal housing of some of the monkeys, in an attempt to improve OHSU's image. Thousands are still housed in metal cages, though, and many other conditions need to be changed.

A Culture of The Differently Abled?

A conference held in Portland in May, 2001 was organized for people who have various physical and psychological abilities to examine the question as to whether they constitute a community and if so, how could it be defined? "Diverse Abilities: Who Defines the Box?" (VB # 41.3) features interviews and excerpts from workshops which address these questions and more.

What makes this show even more poignant is that it was produced by long-time Flying Focus associate Yvonne Simmons, who herself lives with the effects of a brain injury that doctors thought would have caused her death two years ago.


Keeping Busy

Since our last newsletter (June 2001), Flying Focus has also videotaped dozens of community presentations and produced shows on the February 2001 Peace Fest (VB #41.1) and Catholic Worker Petria Malone's eyewitness account of her trip to Colombia (VB #40.2). Our work on many of these programs (particularly the PJTTF show) involved over a dozen volunteers, many of whom we have trained, coached and assisted. Thanks to everyone involved!


Flying Focus' 10th "Busiversary": Ten Years of Video Activism

We were as shocked as anyone else when the U.S. was attacked in early September, but not quite so surprised when the U.S. bombed another country in response, even though that country wasn't directly responsible for the attacks. One reason for this is that while producing our weekly show, we have been covering issues of U.S. policy for ten years, beginning with the "Gulf War" in 1991, and have seen the U.S. intervene in Haiti, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

The Collective's goal is to give voice to those who do not appear on regular TV. We've also been busy covering issues of poverty and homelessness, animal rights, health care alternatives, racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental justice, media bias, and much more.

In mid-November, we produced the "Tenth Busiversary" (VB #41.8&9), featuring a whirlwind seven minute retrospective of our first nine years along with the 19 new programs we produced since November, 2000. If you've never seen a Flying Focus program before, or want to share with someone a sampling of the breadth of our first decade, please consider ordering a copy. People who have registered as "Friends of Flying Focus" and donated $50 in the last 12 months will receive a free copy (heck, donate $50 now and we'll ship you one, too). Thanks to all of you who have been helping us to keep the information flowing.



To create positive social change, we need
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alternative voices and ideas.

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people who challenge structures of
oppression in our society--activists,
events and concepts not represented by
mainstream media.

This work can change the world, but
only if these ideas are heard.

When you order a tape, you support real
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