Takoma Park City Council Resolution on Protecting Civil Liberties

Introduced by: Councilmember Elrich



WHEREAS, we the residents of the City of Takoma Park recognize that the diversity of our population is vital to our community's character, and that we have a long tradition of protecting and expanding human rights and civil liberties protections for all of our residents, including non-citizens and the recently-immigrated; and 

WHEREAS, the Declaration of Independence of the United States holds as self-evident that all people are created equal and are endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and 

WHEREAS, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution specifies that no law be made "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble., and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances;" and 

WHEREAS, the Fourth Amendment declares that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures., shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized;" and 

WHEREAS, the Fifth Amendment states that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself;'' and 

WHEREAS, the Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense;" and 

WHEREAS, the Eighth Amendment states that "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;" and 

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the government from denying "to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws;" and 

WHEREAS, Article 44 of the Maryland Constitution Declaration of Rights explicitly states "That the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and of this State, apply, as well in time of war, as in time of peace; and any departure therefrom, or violation thereof, under the plea of necessity, or any other plea, is subversive of good Government and tends to anarchy and despotism;" and 

WHEREAS, human rights protections in Montgomery County have been strengthened arid expanded by the passage in August 2001 of additions to County Code establishing the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of Human Rights; and, 

WHEREAS, many other communities throughout the country have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in. the face of govornment policies that threaten these values, and demanding accountability from fcdcral agencies regarding their use of these new powers; and, 

WHEREAS, the City of Takoma Park has established that non-U.S. citizens have Sanctuary rights in our City ("Sanctuary: Rights of Non U.S. Citizens in Takoma Park" Chapter 10A); and, 

WHEREAS, the City of Takoma Park further extends rights and welcomes the full community participation of our resident non-U.S. citizens through the provision of municipal voting rights and eligibility to serve on statutory committees to all residents without regard to citizenship status; and, 

WHEREAS, we believe these liberties are precious and are now directly threatened by: 

  1. The USA PATRIOT Act, which
  • All but eliminates judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance;  
  • Greatly expands the government's ability to conduct secret searches;  
  • Chills constitutionally protected speech through overbroad definitions of "terrorism"; and  
  • Grants the FBI broad access to sensitive medical, mental health, financial and educational records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order; and


  1. Federal Executive Orders, which 


  • Establish secret military tribunals for terrorism suspects;  
  • Permit wiretapping of conversations between federal prisoners and their lawyers;  
  • Lift Justice Department regulations against illegal COINTELPRO-type operations by the FBI (covert activities that in the past targeted domestic groups and individuals); and  
  • Limit the disclosure of public documents and records under the Freedom of Information Act; and
  1. The Proposed Dept. of Homeland Security, which as proposed by the President, violates fundamental principles of open governance by


  • Being exempt from FOIA disclosure, thereby drastically limiting the agency's responsibility to answer public questions;  
  • Empowering the secretary of the new agency to waive the safeguards contained in the federal Whistleblower Protection Act.

Therefore be it resolved, that we the residents of the City of Takoma Park hereby urge that, to the extent legally permissible:  


  1. Our Municipal Government, State Representatives and Senators, United States Congresspersons and Senators monitor the continuing implementation of the Act and Orders cited herein and actively work for the repeal of all existing and against enactment of any new Federal and State legislation that violates those fundamental rights and liberties embodied in the Municipal Ordinances of the City of Takoma Parkand in the Constitutions of the State of Maryland and the United States.


  1. All City officials and employees continue--in keeping with our City's Sanctuary status, and with our long and distinguished history of protecting the human rights of our residents--to preserve all Takoma Park residents' freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and privacy; and that all Local law enforcement personnel refrain from participating in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.


  1. The U.S. Attorney's Office, the Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Maryland State Police, and any other Federal, State or local law enforcement officials with any such information report to the Takoma Park City Council regularly and publicly the extent and manner in which they have acted under the USA PATRIOT Act and new Executive Orders, including but not limited to disclosing;


  • the names of any detainees held in the area or any Takoma Park residents detained here or elsewhere, the circumstances that led to each detention;  
  • the charges, if any, lodged against each detainee;  
  • the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;  
  • the number of search wan-ants that have been executed in the City of Takoma Park without notice to the subject of the warrant pursuant to section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act;  
  • the extent of electronic surveillance carried out in the City of Takoma Park under powers granted in the USA PATRIOT Act;  
  • the extent to which federal authorities are monitoring political meetings, religious gatherings or other activities protected by the First Amendment within the City of Takoma Park;  
  • the number of times education records have been obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in the City of Takoma Park under section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;  
  • the number of times library records have been obtained from libraries in the City of Takoma Park under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act;  
  • the number of times that records of the books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in the City of Takoma Park under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.


  1. Our City Clerk communicate this resolution to all City departments, the State Police, Governor and Attorney General of the State of Maryland, the Maryland Congressional and Statehouse delegations, the local U.S. Attorney's office, the United States Attorney General, and the President of the United States.

ADOPTED this 28th day of October, 2002. 


Catherine E. Waters, CMC/AAE
City Clerk

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