Dissent Is Patriotic
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee's e-mail newsletter
October 24, 2003, Vol. 2, No. 7
- As USA PATRIOT Act Turns Two, Civil Liberties Resolutions Reach 200.
- How to Implement a Strong Resolution
- Report from First Grassroots America Conference
- Rename the Patriot Act Contest Winners
- Celebrate Bill of Rights Day December 15
- New Legislation to Amend Patriot Act Enjoys Bipartisan Support
- Visit New Web Page on Threatened Communities
As USA PATRIOT Act Turns Two, Civil Liberties Resolutions Reach 200
October 26 marks two years since the misnamed USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law. The movement of cities and towns opposing the Patriot Act and other repressive measures enacted since September 11, 2001, has gathered momentum in recent months. On October 21, the number of local and state governments to have passed resolutions and ordinances opposing the Act reached 200, and the total population of those communities topped 25.5 million. Among the recent additions are ordinances passed by the City of Council of Huntington, West Virginia, and the County Commission of Idaho County. Hundreds more resolutions are in progress.
BORDC recognizes and encourages the growing parallel movement of organizations, student and faculty groups, religious organizations, and unions that are also passing resolutions. Please visit our web pagesfor the resolutions and suggestions for getting involved, and feel free to contact our office for advice and assistance or to share tools that may benefit others.
How to Implement a Strong Resolution
One of the most frequently asked questions BORDC receives is, "Now that we have passed a resolution, how do we implement it?" This is a consideration that your community organization and local government should consider before you draft the resolution, because the implementation mechanism must be agreed to at that stage. For example, if you want your community to receive reports of how many residents have been detained, the charges against them, whether they are being given access to legal counsel, and how many times certain types of records have been requested, the commission that is to collect the information must be agreed to in advance and must be documented in the resolution. Implementation tools, including a checklist to simplify information gathering, can be found in the Tools section of BORDC's web site.
Report from First Grassroots America Conference
Last weekend more than 200 defenders of civil liberties from 27
states gathered in Silver Spring to strategize about how to advance
the work they have begun. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee thanks
the many conference committee members, speakers, and participants
who volunteered their time to make the watershed event a success,
and to the many endorsers who helped keep registration affordable.
We will include the attendees' next steps for the movement in a future
issue of the newsletter.
Rename the Patriot Act Contest Winners
The USA PATRIOT Act is one of many regulations enacted since September 11, 2001, that threatens civil liberties. People focus on it because of its misleading name. Open it up, and it's far from patriotic.
To commemorate the Act's second anniversary, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee held a "rename the Patriot Act" contest to give those disenchanted with the Act an opportunity to say what they think the acronym really stands for. Of the many great entries we received, we have selected the following entries:
- First Place: Useless State-sponsored Action Purporting to Attack Terror While Really Initiating an Oligarchic Takeover, from M.R., Amherst, Massachusetts. Prize: $50 worth of BORDC merchandise (Dissent Is Patriotic buttons and stickers, Bill of Rights get well cards, and booklets)
- Second Place: Unseemly and Simplistic Attempt to Preclude Americans' Treasured Rights by Inapt Obsession with Terrorism, from Randy Herrick-Stare, Washington, D.C. Prize: $25 worth of BORDC merchandise
- Third Place: Unilaterally Subverting America by Punishing Activists and Torturing and Repressing Immigrants by Oppression and Tyranny, from Ellen Kaye, Brattleboro, VT. Prize: $10 worth of BORDC merchandise
Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to all of you who sent us entries. We enjoyed all of them.
Celebrate Bill of Rights Day December 15
December 15 is Bill of Rights Day. For the November issue, please send your group's ideas for observing the day or week, so that we can share them with others. Several cities have ongoing observances that include a reading of the Bill of Rights on the steps of the city hall or other government building. Consider street theater (play or skit), a local forum, a school assembly, an op-ed in your local paper, visits to your legislators' in-district offices, a proclamation, a panel on your local access cable TV station, or a resolution.
New Legislation to Amend Patriot Act Enjoys Bipartisan Support
The movement of local and state governments to reclaim the Bill of Rights has been having an impact on our legislators in Washington. (If you've passed a resolution, make sure your legislators receive a copy, and keep reminding them of the strong message your community's resolution sends!)
In October alone, the following new bills have been proposed in the House:
- H.R. 3171 Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act
- H.R. 3352 Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act
The first bill proposed to fix provisions of the Patriot Act, H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, now has 140 cosponsors.
Senate bills proposed this month include:
- S. 1695 Patriot Oversight Restoration Act
- S. 1701 Reasonable Notice and Search Act
- S. 1709 Safety and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act
For more information on these and other bills aimed at rolling back the Patriot Act, visit the Legislation page on our web site. Unfortunately, some members of Congress have introduced legislation aimed at expanding the Patriot Act. For information on these introduced bills that threaten civil liberties, see our web site.
Congress is expected to adjourn in early November, so make appointments now to visit your senators and house member while they are in your district. If your community has passed a resolution, urge your city councillors or other local government officials who supported the measure to join with community members in the legislative visits.
Visit New Web Page on Threatened Communities
Many people have asked us how the Patriot Act and other post-September 11 changes have affected people, specifically the people of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian descent who have suffered detentions and other abuses. To help answer the question, we have added a Threatened Communities page to our web site. It provides links to other web sites, literature, and information. We also offer suggestions for people who want to help. As always, we invite suggestions for additions to the web page.
Make a Gift in Defense of Civil Liberties
Help the Bill of Rights Defense Committee help communities across the country that are helping to restore your precious liberties. Consider making a tax-deductible contribution online or via check or money order.
If you don't need a tax deduction, you may contribute directly to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee via check to the address below.
Your purchase of bumper stickers, buttons, booklets, and Bill of Rights get well cards also help us to cover our expenses. Click here for our catalog.
Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed,
it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead
Editor: Nancy Talanian, Director
Managing Editor: Vanessa Bliss
Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Inc.
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Last Updated: December 15, 2009 4:38 pm EST
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