Activists from San Francisco's Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities are reacting with angry disbelief to a Police Department report denying it violated a city ordinance governing local law enforcement participation in FBI counterterrorism investigations.
The Asian Law Caucus and the Council on American-Islamic Relations lodged a formal complaint last March detailing Google software engineer Sarmad Gilani's encounter with a San Francisco police inspector assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The groups allege that San Francisco police Inspector Gavin McEachern and an unidentified FBI agent contacted Gilani, who is Pakistani and Muslim, at work on June 4, 2014, and told him they were there to follow up on a Freedom of Information Act request Gilani had filed.
The groups' complaint said McEachern peppered Gilani with questions about his "delusions of being persecuted," travel to the Middle East, "what restaurants he eats at in Pakistan, where he visits, who he sees, etc." -- all in apparent violation of the 2012 Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance. The law mandates local police working with the FBI follow state and city law, including a Police Department general order requiring requests for investigations of "First Amendment activities" to be run up the chain of command and reported to the city's Police Commission.
The law was the result of years-long negotiations between the city and Arab-American and Muslim groups concerned they were being targeted by federal law enforcement for acts protected by the First Amendment.