Community Resolution for Mount Vernon, NY

April 14, 2004

RESOLUTION CALLING UPON FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS, AND UPON THE CITY OF MOUNT VERNON TO AFFIRM, PRESERVE AND UPHOLD CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES.

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WHEREAS, the City of Mount Vernon recognizes the Constitution of the United Sates of America to be the supreme law of the land. which all public servants are sworn to uphold;

WHEREAS, the City of Mount Vernon greatly benefits from the many contributions of its highly diverse population, which includes people from around the world, and is to our unique character; and

WHEREAS, the protection of civil rights and civil liberties is essential to the well being of a free democratic society; and

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

WHEREAS, the members of the Council of the City of Mount Vernon believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty- Americans can both be safe and free; and

WHEREAS, federal, state, and local governments should protect the public from terrorist attacks, such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001, but should do so in a rational and deliberate fashion in order to ensure that security measures enhance the public safety without impairing constitutional rights or infringing on civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, federal policies adopted since September 21, 2001, including provisions an the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and in 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 as ""enemy combatants"" without access to counsel or meaningful recourse to the federal courts;

(b) limiting the traditional authority of federal court, to curb law enforcement abuse surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and ordinary criminal investigations;

(c) expanding the authority of federal agents to conduct so-called ""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 and education records with little if any judicial oversight;

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

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

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

WHEREAS, these new powers pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of the residents of our city; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has drafted new legislation entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA)
(also known as PATRIOT II), which contains sweeping new law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers, many of which are not related to terrorism, that would further compromise constitutional rights, and further undermine our government's unique system of checks and balances and;

WHEREAS, more than 279 communities throughout the country have enacted resolutions that reaffirm support for civil rights and civil liberties and that demand accountability from law enforcement agencies account regarding the exercise of the extraordinary new powers referred herein;

WHEREAS, the City of Mount Vernon 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 RESOVLED THAT THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF MOUNT VERNON,

Calls upon federal, state and local officials to affirm, preserve and uphold civil liberties; and

Affirms its strong commitment to support the rights and liberties promised in the Constitution and Bill of Rights; and to oppose measures that infringe upon chose rights and liberties; and

Affirms its strong support for the rights of immigrants and opposes measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based solely on county of origin; and

RESOLVED, That the Council of the City of Mount Vernon directs public libraries within The City of Mount Vernon to public post in a prominent place within the library a notice to library users that reads as follows: ""WARNING: Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-5), records of the books and other materials you borrow from the library may be obtained by federal agents. This provision 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""; and be further

RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Mount Vernon shall seek periodically from federal authorities the following information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the residents of the City of Mount Vernon:

(a) the names of all residents of the City of Mount Vernon who have been arrested or otherwise detained by federal authorities as a result of terrorism investigations since September 11, 2001; the location of each detainee; the circumstances that led to each detention, the charges , if any, lodged against each detainee, the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;

(b) the number of search warrants that have been executed in the City of Mount Vernon without notice to the subject of the
warrant pursuant to section 213 of the USA PATIOT Act;

(c) the nature and scope of electronic surveillance carried out in the City of Mount Vernon under powers granted in the USA PATRIOT Act

(d) the nature and scope of initiatives undertaken by federal authorities to monitor political meetings, religious gatherings or
other activities protected by the First Amendment within the city of Mount Vernon;

(e) the number of times education records have been obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in the City of Mount Vernon under section 507 of the USA PATRIOT ACT;

(f) the number of times library records have been obtained from libraries in the City of Mount Vernon under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and

(g) the number if times that records of the books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in the City of Mount Vernon under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Council of the city of Mount Vernon shall transmit a copy of this resolution to Hillary Rodham Clinton and
Senator Charles Schumer, and to the members of the New York delegation an the House of Representatives, accompanied by a letter urging them to:

(a) support Congressional efforts to assess the impact of the PATRIOT Act;

(b) monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics and seek repeal of those provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and liberties and other laws and regulations that unduly infringe on civil rights and civil liberties;

(c) ensure that provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act ""sunset"" in accordance with the provisions of the Act and

(d) take a lead in Congressional action to prohibit passage of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act;

RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Mount Vernon shall transmit a copy of this resolution to Governor George Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assembly members of the State Legislature accompanies by a letter urging them to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies are implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil rights and liberties; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Council of The City of Mount Vernon shall transmit a copy of this resolution to President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft.

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