Community Resolution for Lexington, MA

July 14, 2005
Warrant ARTICLE: A resolution to protect and affirm civil rights and constitutional protections guaranteed to all Lexington residents by the Constitution of the United States

To see if the Town will vote to adopt a resolution to affirm its strong opposition to terrorism, and also to affirm its desire that any efforts to end terrorism not be waged at the expense of the fundamental civil rights and constitutional protections guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution of the United States, and to specifically call for the repeal of those portions of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed in 2001, that infringe on protected rights and liberties, specifically our constitutional rights to freedom of religion, speech, assembly and privacy, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, our rights to due process and equal protection, access to counsel, presumption of innocence and a fair, speedy, and public trial, or act in any other manner in relation thereto.

WHEREAS the Town of Lexington, Birthplace of American Liberty, is proud of its historic role in the American war for independence, the founding of this great country, and the adoption of its Constitution, and is respectful of our forefathers' sacrifices to attain our country's civil rights and liberties;

WHEREAS the citizens of Lexington regard the liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as their most precious bequest to Americans, and intend to preserve these freedoms as the rightful inheritance of their posterity;

WHEREAS the preservation of civil rights and liberties is essential to the well-being of a democratic society and of this Town;

WHEREAS the economy, culture and civic character of Town of Lexington greatly benefit from the many contributions of a diverse population, including immigrants and students, as well as esteemed visitors from outside the town drawn by its national historical sites, and the town has affirmed its respect for diversity, and is desirous of continuing its protection of the rights of all people;

WHEREAS the United States Constitution guarantees all persons living in the United States certain fundamental rights, including freedom of religion, speech, assembly and privacy; protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process and equal protection, and access to counsel, presumption of innocence and a fair, speedy, public trial;

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 ""sneak and peek"" 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, bookstore, 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 -which is not a state or local responsibility;
(g) permitting the FBI to conduct surveillance of religious services, internet chatrooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings of any kind without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed;

WHEREAS several states and over 200 other cities and towns throughout the country and more than 25 cities and towns in Massachusetts have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of federal policies that threaten these values, and demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding their use of these new powers;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Lexington affirms that the rights of all people-including United States citizens and citizens of other nations within the Town-be protected by the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution; and

AFFIRMS its strong opposition to terrorism, and also affirms that any efforts to end terrorism not be waged at the expense of the fundamental civil rights and liberties of the people of the Town of Lexington, the United States and the world.

AFFIRMS its opposition to federal measures including those aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act that infringe on constitutionally guaranteed rights and civil liberties.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Lexington Town Meeting call upon all town officials and employees to respect the civil rights and liberties of all members of this community, including those who are citizens of other nations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Lexington Town Meeting call upon all private citizens-including residents, employers, educators, and business owners-to demonstrate similar respect for civil rights and civil liberties, especially but not limited to conditions of employment and cooperation with investigations; and

IT IS HEREBY FURTHER RESOLVED that Lexington Town Meeting:

1. Request that the Board of Selectmen require the Town Manager to direct the Police Department to

A. Refrain from enforcing immigration matters, which are the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security; and from denying any town service on the basis of citizenship; and
B. Refrain from engaging in the surveillance of individuals and groups of individuals based on their participation in activities protected by the First Amendment, such as political advocacy or the practice of religion; and
C. Refrain from utilizing racial profiling or religious profiling as factors in selecting which individuals are 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 that the subject of the investigation 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. Report to the Board of Selectmen any request by federal authorities that, if granted, would cause agencies of the Town of Lexington to exercise or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of any town ordinance or the laws or Constitution of this Commonwealth or of the United States;

2. Request that the Library Trustees direct the librarians within the Town of Lexington to:

Post in a prominent place within each 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 records about you have been obtained by federal agents. Questions about this policy should be directed to: Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530 "";

Have a policy that ensures the regular destruction of records that identify the name of the book borrower after the book is returned, or that identify the ame of the Internet user after completion of Internet use;

3. Request the School Committee to direct the Superintendent of Schools to:
provide notice to individuals whose education records have been obtained by law enforcement agents pursuant to section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;

4. DIRECTS the Clerk of this Town Meeting to:

A. Transmit a copy of this resolution to Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, and Representative Edward Markey 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
· ensure that provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act ""sunset"" in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
· take a lead in Congressional action to prohibit passage of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, known as ""Patriot II"", or any other laws that weaken constitutional protections in the name of security.
B. transmit a copy of this resolution to Governor Mitt Romney, 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 to take such further action as may be necessary to oppose the USA PATRIOT ACT;
C. transmit a copy of this resolution to President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the provisions of this Resolution shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence, or provision of this Resolution is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to the Constitution of the United States or of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the applicability thereof to any agency, person, or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this Resolution and the applicability thereof to any other agency, person or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Make a Difference

Your support helps the ACLU stand up for human rights and defend civil liberties.

Give Now

Statistics image