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FBI agents

An FBI community outreach program in Seattle received orders to gather intelligence on the Somali community, according to reports released this week by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis.

Seattle was one of six cities targeted in a 2009 plan to use the FBI’s community outreach programs to gather intelligence on Somali immigrants, according to documents obtained and published by Michael Price, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. The order was rescinded in 2010.

While the Brennan Center report said the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area was identified as the program’s top priority, the Star-Tribune reported that the Minneapolis FBI officials told reporters it resisted the spy orders because the bureau’s outreach specialists did not want to jeopardize their relationships with community members.

Seattle FBI field office spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich-Williams told the Globalist that the FBI’s community outreach relationships are important to build trust.

“Unfortunately in Seattle, we’ve seen a number of incidents with bias crime,” she said, referring to several recent attacks on immigrant cab drivers. “It’s for things like that, so that people know that we have a commitment to investigate.”

She said in the al-Shabab case in Minneapolis, it was members of the Somali community who came to FBI agents to report that their family members had been radicalized.

“They came to us; we’re not suspicious of them. They want to protect their families,” she said.

The FBI has long had community outreach programs and fostered relationships with community groups, to provide mentorship and to build trust in law enforcement, according to the agency’s website.

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Seattle teacher and author Jesse Hagopian pepper sprayed at the Black Lives Matter rally on  Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Seattle teacher and author Jesse Hagopian pepper sprayed at the Black Lives Matter rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Provided by James Bible via YouTube screen shot.)

Garfield High School teacher and commentator/author Jesse Hagopian filed a $500,000 claim against the city of Seattle on Wednesday, nine days after being pepper sprayed at a “Black Lives Matter” rally on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, according to The Stranger and KIRO TV, and other reports.

The incident occurred on South Lake Union, shortly after Hagopian delivered a speech to the crowd, according to a press release to the news outlets sent by Hagopian’s attorney, James Bible.

Bible told reporters in the statement that Hagopian had been talking to his mother about being picked up for his son’s birthday party when a Seattle police officer deployed the pepper spray, directly hitting him.

A video posted to YouTube shows Hagopian talking on the phone and walking onto the sidewalk near a line of Seattle police officers on bicycles, with one officer yelling, “Get back! Seattle Police Department!” just before using the spray.

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A driver displays sample passport cards and Washington state enhanced IDs, which are acceptable at the 'Ready Lane' at the border crossing between Washington and British Columbia.
A driver displays sample passport cards and Washington state enhanced IDs, which are acceptable at the ‘Ready Lane’ at the border crossing between Washington and British Columbia. (Photo by U.S. Embassy in Canada, via Flickr.)

State lawmakers are trying to balance new federal regulations on ID cards with Washington’s existing laws that allow undocumented immigrants to access driver’s licenses.

Currently, applicants don’t have to disclose their U.S. citizenship or residency status when applying for a driver’s license or identification card in Washington state.

Under a proposal being considered in the state legislature, the Washington Department of Licensing would keep questions of citizenship optional for standard IDs.

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Nestora Salgado addresses the community police force she lead in Olinalá, Mexico, prior to her arrest last year. (Still from Youtube)
Nestora Salgado addresses the community police force she lead in Olinalá, Mexico, prior to her arrest in 2013. (Still from Youtube)

Nestora Salgado, the Renton woman who returned to Mexico to head a community police force, should be a free woman, the interim Gov. Rogelio Ortega of Guerrero, Mexico, said this week.

The statement by Ortega could be a key step in freeing Salgado and getting federal kidnapping charges against her dropped, according to a story published this week by the Associated Press.

Salgado, a naturalized U.S. citizen, faces charges of kidnapping after her community police force arrested several people, including a city official accused of stealing a cow and the Los Angeles Times.

The previous governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre, had been critical of Salgado’s methods, according to the Los Angeles Times. However,Ortega was named as Guerrero’s interim governor after Aguirre left the governorship last year in the political fallout following the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, another city in Guerrero.

The charges against Salgado were filed by Mexican federal prosecutors, but the Associated Press reported that Ortega said that Guerrero’s government “does not attack social struggles or movements.”

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Taxi hate crime
A not-guilty plea was entered in the assault of a cab driver in Seattle that is alleged to be racially motivated. (Photo via Flickr user doerky)

A man accused of beating a Somali American taxi driver while calling him a “terrorist” pleaded not guilty Monday to hate crime and assault charges.

Jesse Alexander Fleming, a U.S. Navy sailor based in Everett, is charged with second degree assault and malicious harassment, a charge that alleges that the Dec. 7 attack was motivated by racial, ethnic or religious bias. He is free in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Fleming, 26, is accused of beating taxi driver Adan Ali Gaal, 34, unconscious, causing Gaal’s cab to roll downhill, striking several cars and an apartment building in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, according to charging papers.

The case is the second high profile assault of a cab driver in Seattle that prosecutors say has alleged racial or religious motivation in the past two years. The previous case was tried by federal prosecutors.

Gaal told police that Fleming got angry after a slow credit card transaction, and accused Gaal of being a terrorist and told him to “go back to your own country,” according to charging papers. Gaal also suffered a broken nose, according to prosecutors.

Fleming told police that he hit Gaal in self-defense, according to the charging documents. According to KIRO TV, which obtained video of the investigation from the Seattle Police Department, Fleming told police that Gaal was using abusive and explicit language against the United States.