LOS ANGELES - In votes last night, two Southern California city councils passed resolutions upholding the human rights and civil liberties of all residents and opposing provisions of the USA-PATRIOT Act that infringe on residents' rights and liberties. The cities of Santa Monica and Claremont become the second and third localities in Southern California and thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth localities in the country to oppose portions of the USA-PATRIOT Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union, together with local activists and residents concerned with civil liberties encroachments brought about by the USA-PATRIOT Act, has been leading a nationwide campaign to help citizens voice their dissent and take action at the local level.
"Last night, the city of Santa Monica affirmed the city's strong commitment to civil liberties by insisting that efforts to end terrorism not be waged at the expense of our basic liberties," said Nancy Greenstein, ACLU/SC board member and Santa Monica resident. "Santa Monica joins a growing list of localities throughout the nation demanding that the Administration respect the fundamental freedoms that make this country unique."
Localities from Denver, Colorado, to Oakland, California and Flagstaff, Arizona have passed similar measures.
The city of Claremont resolution calls for a wide public education campaign, the first of its kind in the nation, that will include the creation and distribution of a "white paper" outlining the provisions of the USA-PATRIOT Act that infringe on civil liberties of persons in Claremont. In addition, the city will devote a "Citizen Facilitator" to coordinate information from the Claremont police department, Claremont residents, local libraries or bookstores, and any "third parties" with information regarding civil liberties infringements committed against Claremont residents. The information collected by the Citizen Facilitator would then be formally presented to the City Council, City Clerk and the public.
"The city of Claremont showed a strong commitment and dedication to the rights of their residents last night," said Rose Ash, ACLU/SC board member and Pomona Valley chapter activist. "Dedicating a Citizen Facilitator to oversee and report on civil liberties infringements really puts a bite behind the resolution's bark and sends a message that the city of Claremont places a high value on residents' rights as well as their safety."
"This is wonderful news," said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. "Our members and activists have worked long and hard with residents in both localities to secure passage of these measures. The message to Attorney General Ashcroft is growing louder and louder as residents throughout the nation step up in defense of the Bill of Rights."