Sacramento Goes on Record Opposing the USA Patriot Act Joining 211 Communities Across the Country

November 14, 2003 12:00 am

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SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento City Council, voted 8-1, to oppose the controversial USA Patriot Act last night before an overflowing room of local residents and community groups. The resolution sparked intense debate with more than a 100 people lined up outside the chambers. The vote came after two hours of comments from a wide range of groups opposing the Patriot Act. The overwhelming support of the City Council makes Sacramento the 212th community to pass such a resolution.

“With Sacramento being the capital of the largest state in the nation, this sends a clear message to Attorney General John Ashcroft – Californians will not stand by and see the Constitution eroded by the USA Patriot Act,” said Sanjeev Bery, organizer for the ACLU of Northern California. “This is a real victory for all of those who believe and treasure the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

While 60 groups, mostly opposed to the Patriot Act were scheduled to speak, they were cut short half way through when one of the Councilpersons, Jimmie Yee, said “I’m ready to support it.” Larry Brown, the second-ranking official in the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento, spoke for 10 minutes against the resolution.

Recently, Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) have introduced bi-partisan legislation that would roll back some of the Patriot Act’s worse excesses – the Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act of 2003. In the house, Representative Butch Otter (R-ID) has introduced a companion bill.

The Safe Act would make sure that intelligence agents cannot search library records unless there is suspicion that an individual is involved with a foreign power. It would also limit the use of sneak and peak searches by government agents. Furthermore, it would limit the government’s ability to conduct widespread searches of your personal information without probable cause or individualized suspicion.

“The Safe Act would not hinder the investigative powers law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe, but would instead ensure proper checks and balances on these powers to help keep us free,” said Bery. “The movement to fix this un-American piece of legislation is gaining incredible momentum in the Congress and in towns and cities across the nation.”

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