San Francisco says no to indefinite military detention

ndaa flagOn Tuesday, San Francisco became the 18th city to say no to indefinite military detention. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Supervisor David Chiu's “Resolution expressing opposition to the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act."

At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Chiu said to his colleagues:

From my perspective and the perspective of many constitutional scholars, these indefinite detention provisions violate fundamental american legal principles of the presumption of innocence, our fifth amendment right to due process, the sixth amendment right to fair trial, the eighth amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  These provisions would allow activists and journalists to be detained for exercising their first amendment rights to free speech.

I want to take a moment and thank the large coalition that has come together to ask us to support this. There are dozens of organizations in the city including the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Coalition for Safe San Francisco, the Asian Law Caucus, the San Francisco Labor Council, and the San Francisco 99% Coalition.

I want to thank supervisors Avalos, Breed, Campos, Kim and mar for their co-sponsorship. . . .I know we have a different perspective today in 2013 than we did in the early 1940s, but I really do believe those who forget history are bound to repeat it. I want to make sure we don't forget our history. With that, colleagues, I would ask for your support.

His statement was followed by the unanimous roll call vote in favor of the resolution.

As Supervisor Chiu emphasized, this resolution brought together a wide range of supporters, including 27 different organizations.  It was this broad range of support that ensured the resolution's success. Individuals and organizations from the Arab and Muslim American, Japanese-American, and Chinese-American community came together with labor, faith leaders, progressives, and libertarians in support of constitutional rights.

The speakers in support of the resolution demonstrated this range of support. At the initial introduction Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and co-founder of the Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education as well as other Japanese-american community members and peace activists spoke in favor of the bill. Speakers at a rally in support of the introduction included, in addition to Karen, Joe Nicholson of the 99% Coalition, Rachel Roberts of Council on American-Islamic Relations, Supervisor Chiu, and Supervisor Jane Kim.

At the vote on Wednesday, BORDC delivered 89 letters signed by San Franciscans in support of the resolution, which were gathered at a Day of Remembrance event in Japantown, commemorating the Japanese-American internment, on February 17th.  Speakers in favor of the resolution also included members of the local libertarian party, demonstrating that opposition to unconstitutional detention is a transpartisan issue.

At a rally held outside of city hall during the Board of Supervisor meeting, Samina Sundas, the founder and Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, said of the NDAA and other encroachments on civil liberties that have occurred in the name of national security:

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Karen Korematsu emphasized:

What people don't understand is that our civil liberties are on the edge.

Other speakers at the rally included Mohamed Shehk of the Asian Law Caucus and Richard Becker of ANSWER.

San Francisco has now joined a growing national movement.  At the most recent oral arguments in Hedges v. Obamasupporters of the plaintiffs filled the courtroom and rallied outside. While the debate over the 2013 NDAA and potential amendments to protect due process was stale, to say the least, at the federal level, San Francisco is now the 18th city to pass a resolution opposing the NDAA.

Bills are also currently pending in over a dozen states, including AB 351 in California, which would make enforcement of sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA illegal in the state of California.

To join the movement in your city, you can view BORDC’s national map of anti-NDAA movements. Organizers are also using Facebook to organize campaigns to oppose indefinite military detention across the United States.  Existing groups have been formed in California, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming

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