COOS BAY — While local opponents of the National Defense Authorization Act won a partial victory at the county level last week, they may encounter an even tougher battle within the city limits.

The Coos Bay City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday night to postpone further discussion of an anti-NDAA resolution until councilors had time to research the issue.

Councilors Jennifer Groth and Stephanie Kramer dissented.

The proposed resolution, presented by libertarian activist Rob Taylor and Oath Keeper member Tom McKirgen, would forbid Coos Bay police from enforcing or assisting with the enforcement of sections of the law allowing for the detention of terror suspects.

The activists are concerned provisions in the most recent version of the law could be used to indefinitely detain American citizens as suspected terrorists.

“You don’t have to make a decision on this tonight,” McKirgen told the council. “All we’re asking is that you recognize our rights and pass a resolution protecting those rights.”

The Coos County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 on July 30 to adopt an internally-drafted resolution opposing the detention provisions.

The county resolution enables Sheriff Craig Zanni to challenge federal officials seeking to detain citizens under the law.

McKirgen and Taylor said the ultimate goal of their grassroots movement is to kick-start legislation at the state level.

The city’s legal council appeared resistant to the idea that restricting the police department was necessary or prudent.

“The problem with the resolution is that it does also forbid the enforcement of or the assisting in the enforcement of  the law,” said acting City Attorney Karen Costello.

In a staff report presented to the council, City Attorney Nathan McClintock said that since the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA had already been ruled inapplicable to American citizens by a federal appeals court, their was no benefit to passing a resolution.

Councilor Jennifer Groth said she was also worried the resolution could set up a showdown with the federal government.

“I’m truly uncomfortable with pursuing any action that allows our police force to be in conflict with federal law,” Groth said.

Mayor Crystal Shoji said that she was not only uncomfortable with the idea of restricting law enforcement, but also of using city government to promote a legislative agenda.

“I don’t think this is our job to do this,” Shoji said. “We were elected to take care of the city of Coos Bay.”

Councilor John Muenchrath said he disagreed.

“I think things have to start at the local level and work their way up,” he said. “We’re getting awfully close to 1984.”

Muenchrath said he would be in favor of directing the police force not to comply with attempts to detain American citizens.

The council is expected to revisit the issue within six weeks.

Reporter Thomas Moriarty can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or by email at Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasDMoriarty.


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