Community Resolution for Rockport, MA

July 14, 2005
WHEREAS, the Town of Rockport is proud of its long and distinguished tradition of protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of its residents; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Rockport recognizes the Constitution of the United States of America to be the supreme law of the land, which civil servants are sworn to uphold superseding all state and federal laws, administrative rules and ordinances; and

WHEREAS, the rights and liberties of the citizens and non-citizen residents of Rockport protected by the Constitution of the United States of America include freedom of speech, assembly, right to petition, the rights to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures; and

WHEREAS, Federal counter-terrorism policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), The Homeland Security Act (Public Law 107-296), and related Executive Orders and Department of Justice regulations and actions, have authorized the federal government to infringe upon fundamental liberties guaranteed by the United States and Massachusetts Constitutions by:

(a) greatly expanding the government's ability to secretly conduct so-called "Sneak and Peek" searches in which the subject of the search is unaware that his/her property has been entered and/or searched (PA §213);
(b) giving law enforcement officials broad access to sensitive medical, mental health, business, financial, educational and other records about individuals without first showing probable cause of evidence of a crime (PA §215, HSA §201(d), 225(d));
(c) granting the FBI the power to compel libraries and bookstores to produce circulation or book purchase records of their patrons and forbidding disclosure that such records have been requested and produced (PA §215);
(d) all but eliminating judicial supervision of telephone and internet surveillance (PA §216);
(e) granting unchecked power to the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to designate domestic groups, including political and religious groups, as "terrorist organizations" (PA §802);
(f) granting power to the Attorney General to subject non-citizens to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime (PA §411); and

WHEREAS, four states, including Vermont and Maine, and 368 communities nationwide, including New York City and Washington, DC, 49 Massachusetts cities and towns including Lexington, Concord and our good neighbor Manchester-By-The-Sea, have enacted resolutions speaking out against these government actions, demanding accountability from local and federal government;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE TOWN MEETING OF ROCKPORT THAT WE:

1. AFFIRM the Town of Rockport's strong opposition to terrorism, but also affirm that any actions to end terrorism must not be waged at the expense of the fundamental civil liberties, rights, and freedoms of the people of Rockport, the United States, or the world;

2. RESOLVE that the Town of Rockport and its employees and instrumentalities shall continue to preserve residents' freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and privacy; the right to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures; without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, economic status, marital status, citizenship status, or disability;

3. RESOLVE that to the extent legally possible, no Town of Rockport resources, including law enforcement funds and educational administrative resources, will be used for unconstitutional activities.

4. URGE our State Representatives and Senators, and United States Representatives and Senators, to monitor the continuing implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and related subsequent legislation, executive orders, and Department of Justice regulations, and actively work for the repeal of those provisions that are found to infringe on civil rights and liberties;

5. URGE that any new security measures of the Town of Rockport should be carefully designed and employed to enhance public safety without infringing on the civil liberties and rights of Rockport citizens;

6. REQUEST that Town Departments with jurisdiction over facilities frequented by the public post copies of the Bill of Rights in prominent locations within such buildings.

Copies of this resolution shall be sent to the President of the United States; the Attorney General of the United States; the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; the Governor of Massachusetts; and to each member of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress. This Resolution will take effect immediately upon passage. The provisions of this Resolution shall be severable, and if any portion is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to the Constitutions of the United States or Massachusetts, the validity of the remainder of this Resolution shall not be affected thereby.
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