CT Town Joins Growing List of Municipalities that Oppose Anti-Civil Liberties Provisions of USA PATRIOT Act

January 14, 2003 12:00 am

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HARTFORD–The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union today applauded the town of Mansfield for unanimously passing a resolution that urges local workers such as police officers and librarians not to cooperate with federal initiatives that infringe on civil liberties.

Mansfield, a college town with a population of approximately 20,000, is the second municipality in the state to pass such a resolution. The city of New Haven approved a similar resolution last month.

“Local governments throughout the state need to learn how the USA PATRIOT Act is going to affect their communities,” said Teresa Younger, Executive Director of the CCLU, who today addressed members of the Mansfield town council. “Legislators at the municipal level need to go on the record and support their local law enforcement officers and librarians in times like these when the federal government decides to enact its newly acquired far-reaching power.”

Of particular concern to local officials are provisions like “sneak and peek,” which authorize law enforcement to enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when the occupant is away, make photographs and take physical property including communications equipment, and not inform the owner or occupant until later. Another provision would make it easier for agencies like the FBI to obtain library records and compel librarians to monitor the check out habits of individuals without any credible evidence or suspicion.

Younger noted that in communities like Mansfield and New Haven, citizens have stepped up their participation in the democratic process and enacted resolutions prohibiting local implementation of new policies coming out of Washington that intrude on Constitutional freedoms and rights. To date, 26 towns and cities around the country have adopted similar resolutions, with many others engaged in the process.

“We are witnessing a rapidly growing apprehension at the grassroots level over the Bush Administration’s response to the terrorists attacks,” Younger said. “Protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is everyone’s business and now is the time to ensure that the principles that these documents represent are preserved.”

Richard Sherman, a resident of Mansfield and President of the Northeast Chapter of CCLU, encouraged action by other town councils. “The resolution was an act of principled self defense, an action we hope other municipalities will emulate soon,” he said.

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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