ACLU of New Jersey Commends Princeton for Passage of Pro-Civil Liberties Resolution

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
October 8, 2003 12:00 am

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NEWARK — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today applauded passage of a resolution by the Princeton Borough Council calling upon Congress to scrutinize the USA PATRIOT Act and the manner in which its enforcement may imperil civil liberties. The pro-civil liberties resolution makes Princeton the second New Jersey community (following Willingboro) to register criticism of the federal government’s controversial USA PATRIOT Act.

“”I’m proud Princeton Borough Council has joined cities and towns across the country in support of our guaranteed rights under the United States Constitution,”” said Karen Mazzola, a member of the Princeton Bill of Rights Defenders which, along with the ACLU of New Jersey, the Coalition for Peace Action and the Princeton Peace Network, promoted passage of the resolution. “”When the federal government will not uphold the rights of all people in the United States, it is time to take a stance locally. There must be oversight of the government or there can be no democracy,”” she added.

The Princeton Borough Council adopted the resolution when Mayor Marvin Reed, in favor of the resolution, broke a three-to-three deadlock in the Council. Princeton now joins 182 other communities in the United States denouncing the USA PATRIOT Act.

A number of borough residents testified before the Council in favor of the resolution. Resident Karen Pizarro observed: “We know it is up to each generation to win anew the freedoms we so take for granted. Those who expect to reap the benefits of those freedoms must be vigilant in protecting them.”

Jenny Crumiller, a local activist, noted, “When John Ashcroft makes librarians Public Enemy Number One, I can guarantee it’s a problem in Princeton.””

Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act just 45 days after the September 11 attacks, with virtually no debate. Many parts of this sweeping legislation take away checks on law enforcement. For example, without a warrant and without probable cause, the FBI now has the power to access many private medical records, library records, and student records, while preventing those persons whose records the government reviewed from being informed of that fact.

“”The Act threatens the very rights and freedoms that we are struggling to protect,”” said ACU of New Jersey Executive Director Deborah Jacobs. “”I commend the people of Princeton for taking a stand to ensure that we remain both safe and free.””

The resolution was also endorsed by a number of community organizations, including the Communications Workers of America, District One; the Arab-American Voters of NJ; District 1199J of NUHHCE, AFSCME, AFL-CIO; Micawber Books, and the South Jersey Campaign for Peace and Justice.

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