New Yorkers Rally for Resolution 909, Call on NYC Council to Vote Before Session Ends

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
December 2, 2003 12:00 am

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Legislation Calls for Protection of Civil Liberties in War on Terror

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK — Congressional Representatives, Council Members and civil rights, immigrant, and union groups joined hundreds of New Yorkers today for a rally in support of a bill calling on government officials to uphold civil liberties when prosecuting the war on terrorism.

Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins introduced Resolution 909 which 31 out of 51 Council Members have since signed onto as co-sponsors.

“Time is running out for the New York City Council to act on Resolution 909,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Resolution 909 is a principled response to the unprecedented expansion of executive powers in the last two years. The City Council should lead the nation in stating that our freedoms should not be abandoned in the name of national security.”

The resolution has received widespread support from the public, elected officials, and a broad-based coalition of organizations. A majority of NYC Congressional Representatives recently sent a letter to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller asking him to work for its immediate passage. Over 90 organizations have endorsed Resolution 909, including DC 37, NAACP, New York Public Library Guild, and American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.

With majority support, the Council is poised to pass Resolution 909. The only remaining hurdle is getting a vote scheduled for the last stated council meeting of the year on December 11. The decision to schedule the vote is in the hands of Speaker Miller, who has yet to come out for or against Resolution 909.

“Resolution 909 calls for protections of our freedoms, and is a guide to law enforcement on effective means to prosecute the war on terrorism,” said Udi Ofer, project director of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign at the NYCLU, which has led the effort to bring the resolution before the New York City Council.

“Violations of civil liberties, like ethnic and religious profiling or detaining people with no suspicion of criminal activity, do not work,” he added. “They violate the Constitution and do not make us safer.”

The Department of Homeland Security admitted as much yesterday when it halted its “special registration” program for immigrant men from Arab and Muslim countries, citing the fact that not a single terrorist was uncovered after tens of thousands of people were detained and interviewed.

Three states and over 215 communities from across the country have passed similar resolutions. Large cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, and small towns such as Sunset Valley, Texas (pop. 365) and Ridgway, Colorado (pop. 713) have declared themselves “Civil Liberties Safe Zones.”

Glenn C. Devitt, volunteer chair of the New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign said, “This movement has brought on board three-fifths of City Council Members and a majority of New York City’s Congressional Representatives in support of Resolution 909. And today hundreds of concerned New Yorkers are out here on their lunch hour, in the bitter cold, urging the City Council to stand up and let it be known that we are not willing to sacrifice our freedom in the name of security.”

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