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John Ashcroft's tour to defend the Patriot Act

against grassroots America a failure; far more people attended the protests outside Ashcroft's closed-door meetings than attended the meetings themselves

Attorney General John Ashcroft's tour to defend the Patriot Act against criticism raised by grassroots America, and acted upon by members of Congress was a public relations disaster. During the first half of his 30-city tour, protesters gathered outside to voice their opposition to the un-American law, and at each stop, the news media gave at least as much coverage to the demonstrators as they did to John Ashcroft. Thanks to all the wonderful, civic-minded people in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Des Moines, Salt Lake City, Boise, Las Vegas, Boston, Buffalo, Tampa, Atlanta, Research Triangle Park, Norfolk,and New York City who turned out to say no to John Ashcroft and his Orwellian laws. The second half of his tour was completely stealth; the Department of Justice gave no notice of his appearances until after they were over. Clearly the protesters during the first half had a huge impact.

During the course of his tour, twenty-eight communities representing 3.7 million people passed resolutions opposing the Patriot Act. Oregon's state Senate passed a state resolution. Oregon's statewide resolution needs to make it through Oregon's House before its passage.

Read more about Mr. Ashcroft's tour.

Ashcroft's Tour and the Demonstrations in Response

People opposed to the Patriot Act did a fantastic job of pulling off public responses to Attorney General Ashcroft's closed-door speeches before law enforcement, often with only one-day's notice. The Justice Department kept the tour destinations and itinerary secret for as long as possible for "security reasons." Often people only had 24 hours notice that John Ashcroft would speak in their area. Clearly the secrecy was meant to limit public displays of dissent.

Note about Sept. 18-25 appearances: John Ashcroft gave no notice of these appearances.

See the Bill of Rights Defense Committees' press release about the truly stealthy nature of his tour.

September 25, 2003

Mr. Ashcroft spoke in New Orleans, LA; Tennessee; and Charlotte, NC. We have no further details.

September 24, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina; Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida. See the Department of Justice press release they posted after his appearances were over.

September 22, 2003

Milwaukee--Mr. Ashcroft spoke at Milwaukee County War Memorial at 9:30 a.m. to his usual audience of law enforcement personnel behind closed doors.

Cincinatti--Mr. Ashcroft will speak at 1:25 p.m. at Jarlson-Kaplan Theatre, Arnoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut Street, Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh--Mr. Ashcroft will speak at 4:20 p.m. at Grand Ballroom (Second Floor), Marriott Pittsburgh City Center, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh.

September 19, 2003

Minneapolis--Breakfast meeting at 8:30 am. No further information

Omaha--No further information

Kansas City--No further information

September 18, 2003

Loiusiville--Mr. Ashcroft spoke to law enforcement personnel at Kentucky International Convention Center at 9:30 am. With extremely little notice, over 100 protesters gathered to demonstrate their opposition to his closed-door meeting. Read about the open-door meeting with 300 people to discuss the Patriot Act just hours after Ashcroft's departure.

Memphis--Mr. Ashcroft spoke at 11:45 am at Memphis Park Vista Hotel, Memphis, TN.

Little Rock--Mr. Ashcroft spoke at 2:35 pm at Salon C, Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, AR. See this news story about how the Arkansas ACLU director did not know about the Attorney General's appearance there until after he had left.

September 9, 2003

Boston--Mr. Ashcroft spoke to his usual audience of law enforcement personnel in a closed-door meeting at Faneuil Hall, Boston Tuesday, September 9. Boston police estimate that at least 1200 demonstrators arrived to greet him and surround Faneuil Hall as he spoke. See articles in the Boston Globe, and Boston Phoenix No. 1 and No. 2 for more information. Watch Natalie Jacobson's exclusive interview with the Attorney General on NewsCenter 5 and New England Cable Networks coverage of the protest.

New York City--Mr. Ashcroft finished his tour in NYC where more than 2000 protesters rallied outside of his closed-door meeting at Federal Hall on Wall Street, where the Bill of Rights was written. The Attorney General, speaking blocks from Ground Zero said that the people protesting his speech, including members of September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and New York's City Council "have forgotten how we felt" on Sept. 11, 2001, and that "Just two years have passed, but already it has become difficult for some Americans to recall the shock, anger, grief and anguish of that day." .

September 8, 2003

Buffalo--Mr. Ashcroft appeared in Buffalo in the morning on Monday, September 8. At least 200 protesters arrived to express their opposition to the Patriot Act and his tour. See this Buffalo News editorial, "Ashcroft's Methods Hurt His Own Cause," and this WBFO news story about opposition to Ashcroft. See these great photos of the Buffalo protest.

New Castle, New Hampshire-- Atty. General Ashcroft appeared in New Castle, New Hampshire Monday, Sept. 8. At least 65 protesters greeted Ashcroft as he gave his speech to a closed-door audience.

September 6, 2003

Norfolk--Over 100 protesters showed up at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. According to this article, one protester who snuck past security shouted "Do we have free speech in the U.S.?'' as he was dragged out by federal agents. Ashcroft acknowledged the right of free speech but "not the right to speak freely'' at an event such as this.

Research Triangle Park-- At least 450 demonstrators greeted Attorney General John Ashcroft at his appearance in Durham. Also see September 8, 2003, Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, "Ashcroft's Tour Rallies Supporters and Detractors," September 8, 2003, The Daily Tarheel, Elliott Dube, "Protesters Blast Patriot Act," David Fellerath, "Patriot flack: Attorney General John Ashcroft comes to town to convince local police and TV reporters that the Patriot Act is helping win the war on terror, not trampling the Constitution. Then he walks away from the tough questions," and Bill Towe, "We are Watching You: Hundreds of Protesters Summoned by a Variety of Email Lists Show up to Protest the Attorney General's Visit."

September 5, 2003

Tampa--Mr. Ashcroft appeared at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay Hotel in Tampa. See this article for more information on growing resistance to the Patriot Act in Florida.

Atlanta--Mr. Ashcroft appeared in Atlanta on Friday, September 5 at the Georgia International Convention Center. 75 demonstrators gathered for protest.

August 26, 2003

Las Vegas, Nevada--25 protesters from all over the political spectrum made their opposition to the Patriot Act clear.

August 25, 2003

Salt Lake City, UT, According to KSL News, 100 protesters demonstrated Ashcroft's visit.

Boise, Idaho, This was an especially interesting stop on the tour because Idaho Rep. Butch Otter is the legislator that introduced an amendment last month that would de-fund sneak and peek searches. This amendment passed overwhelmingly in the house, 309-118. Also see the website of the ACLU of Idaho. Read article Boise Groups Opposed To Patriot Act Bolstered By News Of Attorney General's Visit from Idaho 2 News, Boise.

KBCI reports that 200 protesters gathered in Boise to demonstrate their opposition to the Patriot Act and support for the Bill of Rights. Also see these pictures at Idaho's Indymedia site.

August 21, 2003

Detroit, MI, According to this AP story, over 50 protesters gathered outside where he was speaking.

Des Moines, IA, Protesters voiced their opposition to John Ashcroft in Des Moines.

August 20, 2003

Philadelphia, PA, According to the AP, about 80 protesters showed up to express their dissent. Also see: "Ashcroft Pushing for Patriot Act."

Cleveland, OH, The Associated Press reports that 70 protesters gathered outside demonstrating opposition to erosion of civil liberties.

Milwaukee--Mr. Ashcroft's scheduled appearance in Milwaukee the week of August 18 was cancelled. He must have thought twice about going to the home state of Senator Russ Feingold, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act.

Articles on Ashcroft's tour:

September 9, 2003, Sarah Ferguson, The Village Voice, Bashcroft!
September 8, 2003, Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, Ashcroft Tour Rallies Supporters and Detractors
September 7, 2003, Tim McGlone and Michelle Mizal-Archer, The Virginia Pilot, Attorney General Touts USA Patriot Act
September 3, 2003, Patricia Samul, Salt Lake Tribune, Contempt for the People
August 31, 2003, Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Smith, The Attorney General and the Patriot Act
August 28, 2003, Las Vegas Mercury, Big Brother Pow-wow, Public Left Out in Rain During Patriot Act Performance
August 25, 2003, The New York Times, An Unpatriotic Act
August 25, 2003, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Don't Let the Patriot Act Go Overboard
August 24, 2003, St. Petersburg Times, The Patriot Act Goes On Tour
August 24, 2003, Boston Globe, Scoundrel Time
August 24, 2003, Albany Times-Union, Mr. Ashcroft, On the Trail
August 22, 2003, The Washington Post, Prosecutors are Urged to Press Congress, Opponents of Patriot Act Targeted
August 22, 2003, CBS News, Ashcroft Plays 'Patriot' Game
August 22, 2003, Berkshire Eagle, Heeeere's Johnny
August 21, 2003, Philadelphia Daily News, The debate: Security vs. freedom
August 21, 2003, The New York Times, Ashcroft Criticized for Talks on Terror
August 21, 2003, Timothy Lynch of the Cato Institute, Patriotic Questions: Addressing the Patriot Act
August 21, 2003, Elaine Cassel, Brother John's Traveling Patriot Salvation Show
August 19, 2003, Newsday, Ashcroft to Make Case for Anti-Terror Tactics
August 19, 2003, Reuters, U.S. Attorney General Defends Anti-Terrorism Law
August 19, 2003, The New York Times, Bush Administration Plans Defense of Terror Law
August 19, 2003, AP, Ashcroft Uses Iraq Bombing to Boost His Defense of Patriot Act
August 19, 2003, Wired, Ashcroft Touts Patriot Act

Attorney General John Ashcroft's tour to defend the Patriot Act against grassroots and congressional opposition is not over. It has turned completely stealth, with the Justice Department providing no notice of scheduled appearances. Contact your congressional delegation and urge that they put a stop to Mr. Ashcroft's publicly financed, politically motivated tour.

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