July 07, 2003

130 U.S. Communities Saying No to Repression

Such resolutions are not passed in a vacuum. The local
officials who have taken this brave, principled action
have done so because the communities demanded it.
These actions, representing 16 million people,
translate into votes. You are not alone.
They are hoping that the triple lock--i.e., their
overwhelming lead in corporately controlled campaign
contributions, their though-control (i.e. corporate
kulchure) of the corporately owned "US mainstream news
media" and their tampering at the voting booth (i.e.
blacb box voting," the end of "exit polls," etc.--but
they may yet be proven wrong.


Published on Saturday, July 5, 2003 by OneWorld.net
130 U.S. Communities Saying No to Repression
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - More than 130 communities with a combined
population of more than 16 million people in 26 states
have passed resolutions directing local police to
refrain from using racial profiling, enforcing
immigration laws, or participating in federal
investigations that violate civil liberties, according
to a new report released on the eve of this year's
Fourth of July celebrations by the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU).

The 23-page report credits Ann Arbor, Michigan, with
adopting the first resolution opposing key provisions
of the USA PATRIOT Act, thus setting off a trend that
shows no sign of abating.

"In my conversations with people from across the
political spectrum, I hear one refrain over and over,"
says Laura Murphy, who heads the ACLU's Washington,
D.C. legislative office. "If we give up our freedoms
in the name of national security, we will have lost
the war on terrorism."

"As this year's Fourth of July rolls around, we hope
that this report will demonstrate to the White House,
the Justice Department and Congress that we must be
both safe and free."

The ACLU, whose local offices played a major role in
support of dozens of resolutions around the country,
stressed that among the jurisdications that have taken
action are a number of traditionally conservative
areas of the country, such as Oklahoma City, Missoula,
Montana; and Falgstaff, Arizona.

Some of the larger cities include Denver, Colorado;
Oakland and San Francisco, California; Seattle,
Washington; Detroit, Michigan; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; and Baltimore, Maryland. Three states
have also adopted measures that call for strict
respect for constitutional rights: Hawaii, Alaska, and

The report, 'Independence Day 2003: Main Street Fights
the Federal Government's Insatiable Appetite for New
Powers in the Post 9/11 Era,' says the burgeoning
grassroots movement was launched after demands by
Attorney General John Aschroft were agreed to by
Congress, which, it charges, "encouraged an atmosphere
of hysteria," by approving the USA PATRIOT Act in late
October 2001 with little debate and few dissenting

The Act included a number of controversial provisions
that, in the ACLU's view, upset the balance between
the citizen's privacy and political rights and the
state's responsibility to ensure the security of the

Some of those provisions included expanding the power
of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act;
approval of "sneak and peek" warrants which allow
federal agents to enter private homes without
notifying the owner until much later; weakening the
standards for intelligence wiretaps by permitting them
to be used for criminal invstigations under some
circumstances; and making it easier for federal agents
to obtain highly personal "business records," such as
library loan records, of possible terrorist suspects.

The Act itself was followed up with a flurry of
executive orders, regulations, policies and practices,
such as denying the right to a fair trial for citizens
and non-citizens labeled "enemy combatants" and
establishing military commissions that fall short of
minimum due process standards, which further eroded
civil liberties protection, according to the ACLU.

On January 7, 2002, Ann Arbor became the first city in
the country to pass a resolution in direct response to
the PATRIOT Act and new federal policies. "We're very
concerned about civil rights and the about the
potential discrimination," City Councilwoman Heidi
Herrell told ABC News at the time. "We spent a lot of
time since September 11 making sure that the Muslim
members of our community felt safe."

Denver became the second city to approve a resolution
after the ACLU there discovered the existence of 3,400
secret files on social activists that had been
collected by the Denver Police over several years.
That resolution called for the police not to gather
information on individuals' First Amendment activities
unless the information related to criminal activity
and the subject was suspected of engaging in criminal

The movement has gathered steam. In February, 2003,
alone, 22 communities passed resolutions affirming
civil liberties, while the three states have all acted
in the last three months.

The momentum behind the resolution movement has drawn
the increasing ire of the Justice Department,
according to the report. Ashcroft himself recently
acknowledged public fears about the possibility for
abuse of the PATRIOT Act and called on the media to
help the Justice Department explain it. It has also
enlisted Republican lawmakers in an effort to oppose
local resolutions.

"This report just goes to show the importance of local
activism," Murphy said. "Although the Attorney General
and his staff have said that this movement is but a
flash in the pan, the fact that they'd take the time
to actively work to defeat these things speaks volumes
about their political importance."

The movement has not only involved local governments.
Librarians are refusing to cooperate with federal
authorities, and dozens of state library associations
have passed their own anti-PATRIOT Act resolutions. In
Congress. Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has
introduced the "Freedom to Read Protection Act" which
would exempt libraries and bookstores from the Act.
The bill currently has 122 co-sponsors, and California
Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced a companion bill in
the Senate.

"Nothing is more precious in a democracy than freedom
of speech and free access to information without
government intrusion," the report asserts. "The
American people seem to understand that, even if
Attorney General Ashcroft does not."

Copyright 2003 OneWorld.net


Posted by richard at July 7, 2003 12:09 PM