Syracuse, New York
Population (2000 Census): 147,306
Date Passed: 09/08/03
Resolution Addressing the Preservation of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights of All Individuals Living in Syracuse, New York in Response to the USA PATRIOT Act
Approved by: Syracuse Common Council
WHEREAS, the City of Syracuse recognizes the Constitution of the United States of America to be the supreme law of the land, which all public servants are sworn to uphold; and
WHEREAS, the City of Syracuse greatly benefits from the many different cultural and spiritual contributions of its highly diverse population; and
WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of Syracuse believes that there need be no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty, and that government security measures that undermine fundamental rights do damage to American institutions and values; and
WHEREAS, federal policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and related executive orders, regulations and actions threaten basic fundamental rights and liberties by;
(a) Authorizing the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens based on mere suspicion, and the indefinite incarceration of citizens designated by the President as "enemy combatants", without access to counsel or meaningful recourse to the federal courts;
(b) Limiting the traditional authority of federal courts to provide reasonable limitation and oversight on electronic surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and ordinary criminal investigations;
(c) Expanding the authority of federal agents to conduct so-called "sneak and peek" or "black bag" searches, in which the subject of the search warrant is unaware that his property has been searched;
(d) Granting Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to personal medical, financial, library, and educational records, and other personal records held by third parties with little if any judicial oversight;
(e) Discouraging citizens and residents from pursuing constitutionally protected speech and protest actions through overly broad definitions of "terrorism";
(f) Driving a wedge between immigrant communities and the police by encouraging involvement of state and local police in enforcement of federal immigration law;
(g) Permitting the FBI to conduct surveillance of religious services, Internet chat rooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings of any kind, without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed; and
WHEREAS, the expanded surveillance, investigation, and detention powers granted by Congress to federal law enforcement agencies under the USA PATRIOT ACT, and its erosion of our system of checks and balances, pose a particular threat to the civil liberties of the residents of our city; and"
WHEREAS, a number of federal officials and legislators have indicated a desire to abolish sunset provisions that Congress originally incorporated into the USA PATRIOT ACT, and
WHEREAS, new legislation has been drafted by the Administration entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) (also known as PATRIOT II) which would continue to undermine constitutional rights, and our unique system of checks and balances by further diminishing personal privacy, reducing the accountability of government, and eroding the constitutional right of all persons to due process of law; and
WHEREAS, the City of Syracuse recognizes that government action that infringes on the constitutional rights of any person represents an abuse of power, a breach of the public trust, and misappropriation of public resources;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SYRACUSE
Affirms its strong commitment to the protection of the civil rights and civil liberties of all persons in the City of Syracuse, including but not limited to, their constitutional rights to assemble, peacefully protest, and to express their political views without governmental interference; and
Joins communities across the nation in expressing concerns regarding provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), related executive orders, regulations, and actions that threaten fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed under the United States Constitution; and
Supports the United States Congress in its efforts to oversee and assess the impacts of the USA PATRIOT Act and to ensure that the sunset date of Title II of the Act remains in force and is honored, thereby supporting all Congressional efforts to ensure that Congress enacts the required joint resolution on or before October 1, 2005 to inactivate Title II.
IT IS HEREBY FURTHER RESOLVED, and is the policy of the City of Syracuse, that the Common Council of the City of Syracuse:
1. Calls on the Police Department of the City of Syracuse to:
a. Recognize that the enforcement of federal immigration laws is a function of federal law enforcement authorities, and to therefore refrain from participating in the enforcement of these laws except when specifically requested by federal officials in relation to particularized suspicion of criminal activity; and
b. Recognize that individuals and groups should be able to freely engage in First Amendment activities, and to therefore refrain from engaging in the surveillance of individuals or groups based on their participation in such activities without particularized suspicion of criminal activity; and
c. Refrain from utilizing profiling based on ethnicity, language, national origin, religion or religious belief, political affiliation or political belief, when initiating investigatory activities, without particularized suspicion of criminal activity; and
d. Report to the Common Council any request by federal authorities that, if granted, would cause agencies of the City of Syracuse to exercise or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of any city ordinance or the laws or Constitution of this State or the United States.
2. Requests all citizens - including residents, employers, educators, and business owners - to demonstrate similar respect for civil rights and civil liberties, especially but not limited to conditions of employment and cooperation with investigations.
3. Urges institutions of higher learning and schools within Syracuse to provide written notice to parents and students as follows "WARNING: Under Section 507 of the Federal USA PATRIOT Act public law 107-56, educational records may be obtained by federal law enforcement agents. This educational institution may be prohibited from informing you if your records have been obtained. Questions about this policy should be directed to: Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530 - Attention: John Ashcroft."
4. Urges all libraries within the City of Syracuse to post in a prominent place within the library a notice to library users as follows: "WARNING: Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. Under this federal law librarians are prohibited from informing you whether federal agents have obtained records about you. Questions about this policy should be directed to: Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530 - Attention: John Ashcroft."
5. Asks the Common Council President on behalf of the Common Council to seek annually no later than January 31st from federal authorities the following information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the residents of Syracuse:
a. The names of all residents of Syracuse who have been arrested or otherwise detained by federal authorities as a result of investigations into either domestic or international terrorism since September 11, 2001; the location of each detainee; the circumstances that led to each detention; the charges, if any, lodged against each detainee; and the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;
b. The number of search warrants that have been executed in Syracuse without notice to the subject of the warrant pursuant to Section 213 of the USA Patriot Act;
c. The nature and scope of electronic surveillance carried out in Syracuse under powers granted in the USA Patriot Act;
d. The nature and scope of federal monitoring of political meetings, religious gatherings or other activities in Syracuse protected by the First Amendment;
e. The number of times education records have been obtained from schools and institutions of higher learning in Syracuse under Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT ACT;
f. The number of times public or academic library records have been obtained from libraries in Syracuse under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT;
g. The number of times that records of books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in Syracuse under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
6. Asks the Common Council President on behalf of the Common Council to transmit to the Common Council no later than March 31st of each year, in written form, the information obtained pursuant to the preceding paragraphs, as well as a written report on the status of any outstanding requests for such information.
IT IS HEREBY FURTHER RESOLVED, that upon passage of this resolution, the Common Council President, on behalf of the Common Council, shall:
1. Transmit a copy of this resolution to President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
2. Transmit a copy of this resolution to Senators Clinton and Schumer, and Representative Walsh, accompanied by a letter urging them to:
a. Monitor federal antiterrorism measures and to work to repeal provisions of the USA PATRIOT of the USA PATRIOT Act and other laws and regulations that infringe on civil rights and civil liberties; and to
b. Take all possible actions to lead to Congressional action to prevent passage of the DSEA, and to enact the required joint Congressional resolution to inactivate Title II of the USA Patriot Act on or before October 1, 2005.
3. Transmit a copy of this resolution to the New York State Governor, State Senators, and State Assembly members, accompanied by a letter urging them to support efforts to monitor federal antiterrorism measures, and to ensure that NY State anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does n ot infringe on civil rights and civil liberties as described in this resolution.
Community Group / Coalition: Syracuse Bill of Rights Defense Committee