National Anti-Patriot Act Movement Centers on Ground Zero; NYC Council Introduces Pro-Civil Liberties Resolution

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
May 28, 2003 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – Voicing concern that constitutional freedoms are threatened by federal and local anti-terrorism measures, City Council Member William Perkins and six of his colleagues today introduced a bold, detailed resolution affirming the fundamental rights and liberties of New Yorkers.

“This resolution affirms New York’s respect for civil liberties and civil rights. Even as we are dealing with the tragedy of 9/11, we as a city and as Americans cannot allow civil liberties and basic constitutional protections that we hold dear to be destroyed,” Councilman Perkins said at a noonday rally on the steps of City Hall.

The resolution’s preamble states that provisions of the USA Patriot Act and other laws and executive orders issued after Sept. 11, 2001, pose a direct threat to individual freedoms.

With the introduction of the resolution at the City Council, New York joins a broad-based national movement, organized under the banner of the Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, a coalition with more than 30 organizations, including the New York Public Library Guild, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the New York Immigrants Rights Coalition, and the NAACP.

As of May 1, 2003, more than 115 municipalities, as well as two states, have adopted resolutions calling on government officials to take affirmative measures to protect fundamental rights and liberties and to account to the people for the exercise of new, expanded police powers adopted after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

“Since September 11 and the start of the ‘war against terrorism’, the assault on the exercise of fundamental rights and liberties has been swift and relentless,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU, a founding member of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign.

“This war has undermined the rights of due process and access to counsel and it has made suspect the exercise of free speech, expression and association-the very rights and liberties that define a democracy,” Lieberman said. “This resolution says that these freedoms must be upheld.”

The resolution acknowledges the singularly important role the government plays in protecting the public from acts of terrorism. The resolution also recognizes, however, that it is incumbent upon federal, state and local officials to ensure that security measures serve to enhance the public safety without violating constitutional rights or unduly infringing upon civil liberties.

Council Member Margarita Lopez added, “I cannot stand by with my arms crossed and not express my concerns about how our constitutional rights are being violated. We must be prepared to defend these liberties that we have achieved at such great cost.”

The resolution includes eight provisions that direct local police to refrain from participating in police actions that subject persons to secret detentions or secret immigrations proceedings; to refrain from conducting surveillance of persons engaged in lawful political activity; and to refrain from engaging in ethnic, religious, or racial profiling.

Specific provisions also call upon the federal government to provide city officials with the information needed to assess the impact of federal anti-terrorism efforts on New York City residents — providing, for example, the number of so-called “sneak and peek” search warrants (which may be executed without notice until long after the fact) or the number of requests by federal agents for the records of students or library patrons.

Perkins and Lieberman were joined at today’s rally by the following speakers: City Council Members Margarita Lopez, David Yassky, Hiram Monserrate, Christine Quinn, and Charles Barron; Patricia Perry, mother of an NYPD officer who lost his life on 9/11 at the World Trade Center; playwright Tony Kushner; Ray Markey, President of the New York Public Library Guild, Local 1930, DC 37; Omar Mohammedi, NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Legal Advisor of the Committee on American Islamic Relations; Margaret Fung, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Max Uhlenbeck, New York United for Peace and Justice; Tahira Faune Alford, member, New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, and others.

The New York City resolution is online at:

More information about the national resolution movement is online at:

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