Jackson Passes Pro-Civil Liberties Resolution; First City in Mississippi to Call for Patriot Fixes

May 25, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - Joining an increasingly loud national chorus, the Jackson, Mississippi City Council today adopted a resolution urging Congress to bring the controversial Patriot Act back in line with the Constitution and reaffirmed that city's commitment to freedom. With today's action, Jackson became the first city in Mississippi and the 319th local government to adopt such a resolution.

"The vote by the City Council says that we need not sacrifice freedom to be secure," said Nsombi Lambright, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. "Mississippi's history shows what happens when those in control have an expansive array of powers at their disposal. This resolution shows our commitment to privacy and freedom. Jackson's will prove to be the first of many such resolutions in the great state of Mississippi."

The resolution movement has its roots in the passage of the Patriot Act, the sweeping anti-terrorism legislation steamrolled through Congress in October of 2001, and other similar post-9/11 security measures. Such measures share several anti-civil liberties characteristics, including provisions that erode checks and balances on federal law enforcement and surveillance powers and threaten the American political system's separation of powers.

The resolution was passed on a vote of four to one. It specifically requests, among other provisions, that public libraries notified their patrons that their records may be obtained by federal agents under section 215 of the Patriot Act. It also encourages Congress to "amend the Patriot Act in order to restore, maintain, and protect our nation's fundamental and inalienable rights and liberties."

One such Patriot corrections measure is the Security and Freedom Ensured (Safe Act), a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Senators Larry Craig (R-ID), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Sununu (R-NH) and Russell Feingold (D-WI). The Safe Act is a set of modest reforms designed to bring the most egregious provisions of the PATRIOT Act in line with the Constitution. At an FBI oversight hearing held last, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) promised to hold hearings on the Safe Act.

To date, 319 governing bodies -- including the state legislatures of Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont and Maine -- encompassing over 51.5 million people in 41 states, have passed similar resolutions. Participating communities reflect an array of size and political inclination from Ames, Iowa to New York City, from Elko, Nevada to Detroit, Michigan, from North Pole, Alaska to Washington, DC and from Dallas, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia.

"This is an issue that is not tied to party lines or political ideology - it's about protecting and preserving core American values and liberties," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The citizens of Jackson are in good company with Americans from across the country in demanding that we can, and must be both safe and free."

The text of the resolution can be found at:
/cpredirect/17437

For more on the local resolutions campaign, go to:
/resolutions

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