Community Resolution for Falls Church, VA



WHEREAS, the City of Falls Church is proud of its long and distinguished tradition of upholding and protecting the civil rights and liberties of its citizens; and

WHEREAS, the City of Falls Church has a diverse population, whose contributions to the community are vital to its economy, culture, and civic character; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Falls Church have been directly affected by terrorism through the loss of loved ones, including relatives, friends, and co-workers, and have, in many capacities, themselves sacrificed for the cause of Freedom here and abroad; and

WHEREAS, the City of Falls Church has been extensively involved in fighting terrorism, including: its fire, police, and sheriff's departments were first responders to the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, members of City Council and City staff have led and participated in initiatives to improve the Washington Metropolitan region's anti-terrorism and emergency preparedness programs including the Regional Emergency Plan and Emergency Preparedness Council, the City has expended significant resources on improving safety and security of its operations and that of the water system it administers, and its first responders have since engaged in frequent anti-terrorism drills and operations; and  

WHEREAS,  the United States Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights including freedom of religion, speech, assembly and privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, due process and equal protection, equality before the law, the presumption of innocence, access to counsel in judicial proceedings, and the right to a fair, speedy and public trial; and

WHEREAS,  all governments have a responsibility to protect these constitutional rights as well as to protect the public from terrorism; and

WHEREAS,  controversy has developed in response to 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, as well as proposed legislation entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) about whether those policies threaten fundamental constitutional rights and civil liberties; and

WHEREAS,  the USA PATRIOT Act expands the authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to secure access to many types of records, including paper records, stored electronic data, electronic communications and library records without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order; and

WHEREAS,  the USA PATRIOT Act expands the government's ability to conduct secret searches, limits judicial supervision of telephone and internet surveillance, risks alienating immigrant communities from the police that protect them by encouraging involvement of state and local police in enforcement of federal immigration law; and

WHEREAS,  federal, state and local governments, in their efforts to protect residents from terrorist attacks, should do so in a rational and deliberative fashion to ensure that any new security measures enhance public safety without impairing constitutional rights or infringing on civil liberties; and

WHEREAS,  our nation has taken its strength from the freedoms guaranteed of all citizens and should lead the world in setting the example of Democracy's ability to protect itself without undue coercion of its citizens or resorting to government secrecy, violation of due process or invasion of privacy; and

WHEREAS,  the Mary Riley Styles Library Board has considered these issues and has adopted a policy on Confidentiality and Responding to Judicial Process to give direction to Library employees and to provide notification to the public; and

WHEREAS,  although the City Council of the City of Falls Church does not usually take positions on Federal matters, the possible erosion of civil liberties has a direct impact on the operations of the Falls Church City government and on the lives of the people living in the City, necessitating that the City Council express its position; and

WHEREAS,  the City Council of the City of Falls Church believes there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty and maintains that it is possible to be both safe and free.


1.   Affirms its strong support for fundamental constitutional rights as well as for the responsible exercise of governmental authority used to protect national security, and opposes Federal measures that infringe upon these rights; and

2.  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, ethnicity or religion; and

3.  Commits to continue to use every available resource to play its part in fighting terrorism; and

4.  Recognizes and will continue to advocate and support the importance of basic civil rights including the right to a trial by jury for all people, the right to counsel in all criminal matters, the right to a speedy and fair trial, the right to protection against illegal searches and seizures and the right for full and unfettered exercise of all Constitutional Rights especially those enumerated in the First Amendment; and

5.  Requests that members of Congress support and enact legislation to modify the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other enactments, such as the executive orders and federal regulations, that threaten to undermine the fundamental rights of our citizens guaranteed by the United States Constitution and requests that its Federal representatives oppose all measures that contain overly broad and unnecessary infringements of civil rights; and

6.  Directs that, except as lawfully directed by the federal government, by order of a court, or pursuant to the Code of Virginia, no agency or employee of the government of the City of Falls Church shall divulge information or records, including educational, medical, financial or library, pertaining to an individual; and

7.  Endorses and supports the Mary Riley Styles Library's policy on Confidentiality and Responding to Judicial Process; and

8.  Affirms  that the library post in a prominent place a notice stating: ""Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials patrons borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents.  Federal law prohibits librarians from informing a patron if records about him/her have been requested or obtained by federal agents.""; and

9.  Affirms that the library post a sign at all computer workstations stating: ""Activity on this computer may be monitored according to state and federal law.""; and

10.   Directs the City Manager to implement such policies and procedures as are legally possible within the Divisions of the local government, including the Police Department, to insure that the civil rights and liberties of the people of the City of Falls Church are protected.

11.  Directs that copies of this resolution be sent to President George W. Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator John Warner, Senator George Allen, Congressman Jim Moran, Governor Mark Warner, Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, and Delegate Jim Scott.

Reading: 8-09-04
Adoption: 8-09-04
(Vice Mayor Meserve)

 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the foregoing was adopted by the City Council of the City of Falls Church, Virginia on August 9, 2004 as Resolution 2004-34.

      Kathleen Clarken Buschow
      City Clerk


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