ACLU of Southern CA Applauds Santa Monica and Claremont for Becoming 34th, 35th Localities to Pass Resolutions Critical of USA PATRIOT Act

February 12, 2003 12:00 am

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LOS ANGELES–In resolutions passed by their city councils last night, the cities of Santa Monica and Claremont became the second and third localities in Southern California and the 34th and 35th localities in the country to oppose anti-civil liberties portions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

“This is wonderful news,” said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California. “Our members and activists have worked long and hard with residents in both localities to secure passage of these measures. The message to Attorney General Ashcroft is growing louder and louder as residents throughout the nation step up in defense of the Bill of Rights.”

Working together with local activists and residents concerned with encroachments on civil liberties brought about by the USA PATRIOT Act, the ACLU has been leading a nationwide campaign to help citizens voice their dissent and take action at the local level.

Since passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in October 2001, communities from Denver, Colorado, to Oakland, California and Flagstaff, Arizona have passed measures critical of provisions in the law that attack civil liberties.

“Last night, the city of Santa Monica affirmed the city’s strong commitment to civil liberties by insisting that efforts to end terrorism not be waged at the expense of our basic liberties,” said Nancy Greenstein, a board member with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and a resident of Santa Monica. “Santa Monica joins a growing list of communities throughout the nation demanding that the Bush Administration respect the fundamental freedoms that make this country unique.”

The resolution passed by the City of Claremont calls for a far-reaching public education campaign — the first of its kind in the nation — that would include the creation and distribution of a “white paper” outlining the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that infringe on civil liberties of persons in Claremont.

Claremont will also create the office of “Citizen Facilitator” to coordinate information from its police department, residents, local libraries, bookstores and any “third parties” possessing information regarding civil liberties violations committed against Claremont residents. The information collected by the Citizen Facilitator’s office would then be formally presented to the City Council, City Clerk and the public.

“The City of Claremont showed a strong commitment and dedication to the rights of their residents last night,” said Rose Ash, a board member of ACLU of Southern California and Pomona Valley chapter activist. “Dedicating a Citizen Facilitator to oversee and report on civil liberties infringements really puts a bite behind the resolution’s bark and sends a message that the City of Claremont places a high value on residents’ rights as well as their safety.”

Passage of last night’s resolutions comes on the heels of new “anti-terrorism” legislation drafted by the Department of Justice that goes further than the USA PATRIOT Act in eroding checks and balances on Presidential power and contains a number of measures that are of questionable effectiveness, but are sure to infringe on civil liberties.

More information on “USA PATRIOT II” can be found at /node/11495

More information about the resolutions, including examples of the actual legislation passed and sample legislation prepared by the ACLU, can be found at /SafeandFree/resolutions

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