RESOLUTION TO PROTECT CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

May 28, 2003

A resolution calling upon federal, state and local officials, and upon New York City agencies and institutions, to affirm and uphold civil rights and civil liberties.

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

WHEREAS the City of New York has a diverse population, including immigrants and students, whose contributions to the city are vital to its economy, culture and civic character; and

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

WHEREAS government security measures that undermine fundamental rights do damage to the American institutions and values that the residents of the City of New York hold dear; 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 deliberative 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 11, 2001, including provisions in 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 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 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)  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; and

(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; and

WHEREAS these new powers pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of the residents of our city who are or who appear to be Arab, Muslim or of South Asian descent; 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 100 communities throughout the country have enacted resolutions that reaffirm support for civil rights and civil liberties and that demand accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding the exercise of the extraordinary new powers referred to herein;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York:

   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 those 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 their country of origin; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York directs the Police Department of the City of New York to:

(a)    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;

(b) refrain 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, whether such information is obtained by NYPD employees acting alone or in conjunction with state or federal law enforcement officials, unless that information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities, and unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct;

(c) refrain from engaging in racial, religious or ethnic profiling by not relying solely on race, religion, ethnicity or national origin as the basis for subjecting an individual or group to investigatory activities; 

(d) refrain from participating in the enforcement of civil provisions of federal immigration laws;

(d) refrain from assisting federal authorities in obtaining custody of individuals absent assurances that those individuals will not be subjected to military detention, secret detention, secret immigration proceedings, or detention without access to counsel;

(e) refrain from deploying unreliable biometric identification technology in the City of New York; and 

(f) refrain from establishing a network of general surveillance video cameras unless the video surveillance network is subject to regulations that limit the number of hours that recorded material containing no evidence of criminal acts may be retained before it is recycled or erased; limit distribution of and access to the recorded material; require the installation of signage that notifies persons when they are under videotape surveillance; and that create a public registry, with an appropriate governmental agency, of all video surveillance cameras located in public spaces; and

(g) refrain from participating in "sneak and peak" searches, pursuant to Section 213 of the Patriot Act, unless the search is authorized and conducted in accordance with New York State law;

(h)     refrain from establishing or maintaining an antiterrorism reporting system, such as the proposed federal Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), that creates an electronic record on an individual, which is then stored in a database, based upon unsubstantiated information that is insufficient to establish suspicion of criminal activity; and 

(i)     refrain from the practice of stopping drivers or pedestrians for
the purpose of scrutinizing their identification documents when such stops are based solely upon race, religion, ethnicity or national origin, without a founded suspicion of criminal activity; and

(j)     report to the City Council any request by federal authorities
that, if granted, would cause agencies of the City of New York to exercise powers or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of any city ordinance or the laws or Constitution of this State or the United States; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York directs public libraries within the City of New York to 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 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this 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 IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York 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 New York:

(a)  the names of all residents of the City of New York 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 New York without notice to the subject of the warrant pursuant to section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act;

(c)  the nature and scope of electronic surveillance carried out in the City of New York 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 New York;

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

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

(g) the number of times that records of the books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in the City of New York under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York shall
publish and distribute no less than once every six months a summary of the information obtained pursuant to the preceding paragraph and, based on such information and any other relevant information, an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the residents of the City of New York; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York shall
transmit a copy of this resolution to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Charles Schumer, and to the members of the New York delegation in 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 other laws and regulations that unduly infringe on civil rights and 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, known as "Patriot II"; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of New York shall   
transmit a copy of this resolution to Governor George Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the members of the State Legislature, accompanied 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 New York shall
transmit a copy of this resolution to President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft.

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