EXCERPT OF THE ANNUAL TOWN MEETING HELD APRIL 5, 2004
WITH ADJOURNED SESSIONS HELD APRIL 7, APRIL12 AND APRIL13, 2004
Number of Registered voters attending Town Meeting
APRIL 5, APRIL 7, April 12, April 13,
18 354 253 123
ARTICLE 27 # A RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN OF ACTON
(Majority vote) AFFIRMING OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES
Whereas, the Town of Acton denounces terrorism and appreciates and supports those who defend us from terrorism and terrorist attacks: the men and women serving in our armed forces, federal, state and local law enforcement officers, firefighters, & health service professionals, and
Whereas, the Town of Acton values a diverse population whose contributions to the community are essential to its vitality and character, and
Whereas, the Town of Acton has an historic and distinguished tradition of fighting for the civil liberties for all people as expressed in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and
Whereas, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution states ""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,"" and
Whereas, the Fourth Amendment states ""the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,"" and
Whereas, the Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants the following rights: ""the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have the assistance of counsel for his defense,"" and
Whereas, the Eighth Amendment states ""excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted,"" and
Whereas, the Fourteenth Amendment states ""? nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws,"" and
Whereas, we believe these liberties are precious & are now being threatened by the USA
PATRIOT Act, which:
· All but eliminates judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance;
· Greatly expands the government's ability to conduct secret searches;
· Gives the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of State unchecked power to designate domestic groups as ""terrorist organizations,"" and
· Grants the FBI broad and unsupervised access to sensitive medical, mental health, financial, and educational records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order; and
Whereas, Federal Executive Orders
· Establish secret military tribunals for terrorism suspects;
· Permit wiretapping of conversations between federal prisoners and their lawyers;
· Lift Department of Justice regulations against illegal COINTELPRO operations by the FBI (i.e., covert activities that in the past targeted domestic groups and individuals), and
· Limit the disclosure of public documents & records under the Freedom of Information Act;
Whereas, Town employees are prevented from protecting the constitutional rights of citizens of Acton according to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and are at risk of prosecution due to the conflict between said Section and the Constitution of the United States;
NOW, THEREFORE, in keeping with the spirit and history of the Town of Acton, BE IT
1. The Town of Acton has been and remains firmly committed to the protection of civil liberties. We affirm our commitment to embody the spirit of democracy, to embrace and defend human rights and civil liberties for all regardless of citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, racial identification, religious affiliation, age, or country of origin.
2. The Town of Acton calls upon all private citizens, including residents, employers, and business owners, to demonstrate similar respect for each others' civil rights and civil liberties.
3. The Town of Acton affirms its strong opposition to those parts of the USA PATRIOT Act, any Justice Department directives, or Executive Orders that weaken or destroy our civil liberties.
4. The Town Manager shall be directed to transmit a copy of this resolution to all members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, the President of the United States, and the U.S. Attorney General accompanied by a letter urging them to:
· Thoroughly and immediately assess the impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on individual civil liberties;
· Work to repeal provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other laws and regulations that infringe on civil rights and liberties;
· Closely monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics;
· Oppose further legislation & Executive Branch Orders that violate our Bill of Rights.
5. The Town Manager shall be directed to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Governor, Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Acton's delegation to the General Court of Massachusetts.
Ms. Kennedy moves that the Town adopts the non-binding resolution as set forth in the Article.