‘Disturbing’: Activists file lawsuit against Oregon DOJ for alleged surveillance operation

Oregon

FILE – People protest against the Jordan Cove LNG Pipeline on Crater Lake Highway in Medford, Ore., on Jan. 6, 2016. The company that sought to build the natural gas pipeline and marine export terminal in Oregon pulled the plug on the controversial project Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, after failing to obtain all necessary state permits. (Jamie Lusch/The Medford Mail Tribune via AP, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Department of Justice is now facing a lawsuit over what plaintiffs call an illegal surveillance operation.

A group of Indigenous rights, social justice and environmental advocates filed the lawsuit in Salem on Tuesday against the state DOJ over its operation called the Oregon TITAN Fusion Center.

The lawsuit claims the project issued baseless reports on environmental advocates and Indigenous groups after they peacefully protested Jordan Cove LNG, a now-abandoned fossil fuel pipeline operation, and coordinated with a PR firm hired by the corporation behind that project.

“It is astonishing and disturbing to become the target of a well-resourced secret police solely because of my participation in peaceful rallies opposing a harmful fossil fuel pipeline across my ancestral lands,” plaintiff Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, a Klamath artist and environmental and indigenous rights advocate, said in a statement on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit stated the alleged intelligence gathering “never revealed any evidence of criminal wrongdoing — a fact that TITAN personnel were well aware of when they continued to generate, disseminate, and retain ‘intelligence products’ on groups and individuals peacefully organizing against the pipeline and export terminal.”

The group also claimed the operation used surveillance software to track Black Lives Matter protesters and those participating in women’s marches.

KOIN 6 News reached out to the Oregon DOJ for comment but has not heard back.

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