Baltimore, MD City Council Resolution

Document Date: May 19, 2003

City of Baltimore Council Resolution

Introduced by: Council Member Abayomi

Preservation of Civil Liberties Resolution-USA Patriot Act

For the purpose of defending the civil liberties and civil rights of all individuals living in Baltimore City.

WHEREAS, the City of Baltimore recognizes the Constitution of the United States of America to be the supreme law of the land, which all public servants are sworn to uphold; and

WHEREAS, the City of Baltimore greatly benefits from the many contributions of its highly diverse population, which includes people from around the world, and is vital to our city's unique character; and

WHEREAS, the City of Baltimore is a major international port and recognizes its unique position to maintain prosperous relationships with all nations; and

WHEREAS, government security measures that undermine fundamental rights do damage to the American institutions and values that the residents of the City of Baltimore hold dear;

WHEREAS the Council of the City of Baltimore believes that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty-Americans can be both safe and free;

WHEREAS federal policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and related executive orders, regulations and actions threaten fundamental rights and liberties by;

(a) Authorizing the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens based on mere suspicion, and the indefinite incarceration of citizens designated by the President as "enemy combatants" without access to counsel or meaningful recourse to the federal courts;

(b) Limiting the traditional authority of federal courts to curb law enforcement abuse of electronic surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and ordinary criminal investigations;

(c) Expanding the authority of federal agents to conduct so-called "sneak and peak" or "black bag" searches, in which the subject of the search warrant is unaware that his property has been searched;

(d) Granting law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to personal medical, financial, library and education records with little if any judicial oversight;

(e) Chilling constitutionally protected speech through overbroad definitions of "terrorism";

(f) Driving a wedge between immigrant communities and the police that protect them by encouraging involvement of state and local police in enforcement of federal immigration law;

(g) Permitting the FBI to conduct surveillance of religious services, internet chat rooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings or any kind without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed;

WHEREAS these expanded powers have and will pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of the residents of our city. Powers granted by Congress to government agencies are seldom retracted and government agencies including the Defense, State, and Justice Departments which have been granted greater surveillance and investigative powers under the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001 may not be willing to abandon those powers by 2005, and therefore these agencies along with the Administration may seek to amend, adjust, or repeal the sunset provisions of PATRIOT Act Title II. It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure that these powers granted by the USA PATRIOT Act are limited in scope and effect to whatever extent Congress has stated in the Act that such powers are to be so limited; and

WHEREAS new legislation has been drafted by the Administration entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) (also known as PATRIOT II) which contains a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers, many of which are not related to terrorism, that would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights, as well as disturb our unique system of checks and balances by:

(a) diminishing personal privacy by removing important checks on government surveillance authority,

(b) reduce the accountability of government to the public by increasing government secrecy,

(c) expanding the definition of "terrorism" in a manner that threatens the constitutionally protected rights of Americans, and

(d) seriously erode the right of all persons to due process of law.

WHEREAS, the City of Baltimore recognizes that an infringement of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of any person, under the color of law, is an abuse of power, and a breach of the public trust, a misappropriation of public resources, a violation of civil rights and is beyond the scope of governmental authority.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BALTIMORE remains firmly committed to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties for all people. The City of Baltimore will completely avoid discrimination in every function of city government, and vigorously uphold the constitutionally protected rights of all persons to peacefully protest and express their political views without any form of governmental interference.

IT IS HEREBY FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Baltimore joins communities across the nation in expressing concerns regarding provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), related executive orders, regulations and actions threaten fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed under the United States Constitution.

IT IS HEREBY FURTHER RESOLVED, and is the policy of the City of Baltimore, that the council of the city of Baltimore:

1. Directs the Police Department of the City of Baltimore to:

a. Refrain from enforcing immigration matters, which are entirely the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security. No city service will be denied on the basis of citizenship; and

b. Refrain from engaging in the surveillance of individuals or groups of individuals based on their participation in activities protected by the First Amendment, such as political advocacy or the practice of a religion, without particularized suspicion of criminal activity unrelated to the activity protected by the First Amendment; and

c. Refrain from utilizing racial profiling or religious profiling as factors in selecting which individuals to subject to investigatory activities except when seeking to apprehend a specific suspect whose race, religion, ethnicity or national origin is part of the description of the suspect; and

d. Refrain, whether acting alone or with federal or state law enforcement officers, from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership unless such information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities, and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct; and

e. Refrain from undertaking or participating in any initiative, such as the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), that encourages members of the general public to spy on their neighbors, colleagues or customers; and

f. Refrain from using racial profiling to stop drivers or pedestrians for the purpose of scrutinizing their identification documents without particularized suspicion of criminal activity; and

g. Report to the city council any request by federal authorities that, if granted, would cause agencies of the City of Baltimore to exercise or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of any city ordinance of the laws or Constitution of this State or the United States.

2. Directs public libraries within the City of Baltimore to post in a prominent place within the library a notice to library users as follows: "WARNING: Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. That federal law prohibits librarians from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you. Questions about this policy should be directed to: Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530".

3. Directs the City Council Chief of Staff to:

a. Transmit a copy of this resolution to Senators Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, and Representatives Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and Roscoe Bartlett accompanied by a letter urging them to monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics and work to repeal provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT and other laws and regulations that infringe on civil rights and liberties. And to take all possible actions to lead Congressional action to prohibit passage of the DSEA. And to support our United States Congress in their efforts to oversee and assess the impacts of the PATRIOT Act and to ensure that the sunset date of Title III of the Act remains in force and is honored, thereby supporting all Congressional efforts to ensure that Congress enacts the required joint resolution on or before October 1, 2005 to inactivate Title. ; and

b. Transmit a copy of this resolution to Governor Robert Ehrlich, and appropriate members of the State Legislature, accompanied by a letter urging them to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties as described in this resolution; and

c. Transmit a copy of this resolution to President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Related Issues

Sign up to be the first to hear about how to take action.