Davis, CA Opposition to the USA Patriot Act

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Davis, CA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 2/12/03

Vote: Unanimous

Source File: http://www.city.davis.ca.us/story/pdfs/resolution-03-18.pdf



WHEREAS, following the horrific attacks on the United States of America on September 11, 2001 the Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act (PL107-56) on October 26, 2001; and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate for our government to heighten security to protect the U.S. public from terrorism. However, heightened security measures should not infringe on the rights of individuals guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of California; and

WHEREAS, the City of Davis includes a diverse community of students and working families, including non-citizens, whose contributions to the community are vital to its character and function; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Davis are concerned that some executive orders and the resulting actions of the Attorney General of the United States and the U.S. Justice Department since the September 11, 2001 attacks pose significant threats to Constitutional protections in the name of fighting terrorism, and that such undermining of basic civil rights and liberties run the serious risk of destroying freedom in order to save it; and

WHEREAS, we as a city believe that respect for an individual’s constitutional rights is essential for the preservation of a democratic society; and

WHEREAS, several actions recently taken by the federal government, including the adoption of sections of the USA PATRIOT Act and several Executive Orders now threaten these fundamental rights and liberties, including: freedom of speech, religion, assembly and privacy; the rights to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, all of which are guaranteed by the Constitution of California, the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and by United Nations Charter Articles 55, which require the United States to promote human rights for all without distinction; and

WHEREAS, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution specifies that no law be made "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"; and

WHEREAS, the Fourth Amendment declares that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act allows the FBI and other domestic security groups to secretly search an individual’s home, computer, or business, listen to phone conversations, as well as obtain Internet communications, medical records, financial records, records of books bought or checked out of libraries, and student records for "intelligence" purposes under the USA PATRIOT Act’s definition of domestic terrorism; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act allows the government to search for evidence in a criminal investigation without first issuing a search warrant when it contends that issuing a warrant would impede the investigation. In common language, it allows the government to "fish" for information that may be relevant to a criminal investigation without having to show reasonable cause that the information it seeks may reveal evidence relevant to a crime. The USA PATRIOT Act undercuts the Fourth Amendment which protects citizens from unwarranted search and surveillance; and

WHEREAS, the Fifth Amendment states that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself"; and

WHEREAS, the Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense"; and

WHEREAS, new regulations were issued that allow the government to listen in on conversations between an attorney and an inmate when the Attorney General "suspects" such a conversation may have a connection to terrorist activity. This regulation clearly undercuts the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees the right to competent legal defense; and

WHEREAS, the Administration announced its intention to create secret military tribunals to try immigrants and other foreigners for terrorism. The usual rules of evidence and right to defense counsel would not necessarily apply. There would be no right of appeal. Such tribunals would clearly undo the right to a public trial guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Eighth Amendment states that "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted"; and

WHEREAS, the Administration has considered allowing the use of torture to obtain information from suspects under investigation for terrorism. The use of torture undercuts the Eighth Amendment which protects people from cruel and unusual punishment; and

WHEREAS, the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution guarantee certain due process and equal protection rights to all residents of the United States regardless of citizenship or immigration status; and

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the government from denying any person equal protection by stating “no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws," and pursuant to that clause, human rights and due process must be afforded to all people in the United States regardless of citizenship or immigration status; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act defines "domestic terrorism," so broadly as to apply to certain acts of civil disobedience by lawful advocacy groups such as Operation Rescue or Greenpeace which may be labeled as terrorist organizations and subjected to invasive surveillance, wire tapping, harassment, and criminal penalties for protected political advocacy; also the USA PATRIOT Act grants unchecked power to the Secretary of State to designate domestic groups as "terrorist organizations"; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act gives the FBI and the CIA greater powers to wiretap phones, monitor e-mail, survey sensitive medical, mental health, financial and educational records, and records of books purchased or checked out of libraries without having to show evidence of a crime and without meaningful judicial review, and break into homes and offices without prior notification; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act greatly expands the government's ability to conduct secret searches without warrants; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act grants power to the Attorney General to subject noncitizens to indefinite detention without meaningful judicial review even if they have not committed a crime; and

WHEREAS, more than 1,000 people were detained in the weeks following the September 11 attacks, most without being charged, some denied the right to contact lawyers or their families; and

WHEREAS, the Justice Department, under Attorney General, has issued a directive limiting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) compliance and cites the threat of terrorism as justification; this directive of limiting disclosure of public documents and records covers all government information, much of which has no national security or law enforcement connection; and

WHEREAS, the Justice Department has announced a nationwide effort to locate and interview as many as 8,000 recent immigrants - all men ages 18 to 33, primarily from Middle Eastern nations; guidelines for these interviews include inquiries into an individual’s political beliefs and the beliefs of families and friends, and whether or not the individual "supports" any cause that terrorists espouse; and

WHEREAS, on May 30, the U.S. Attorney General unilaterally and without consultation with Congress eased long-standing intelligence guidelines which were put in place in 1976 as a result of gross intelligence abuses by the FBI and issues surrounding the Watergate Hotel break-in by operatives linked to the Nixon White House; and

WHEREAS, the new guidelines allow FBI agents to spy on religious groups, political rallies, and organized meetings without any suspicion that the organization is involved in terrorism or any other criminal activity; and

WHEREAS, this type of unchecked intelligence gathering led to the gross intelligence abuses of the 1960’s including the attempted disruption of the civil rights movement and, as recently reported, the firing of former UC Chancellor Clark Kerr; and

WHEREAS, thirty years ago, California voters overwhelmingly amended the Constitution of California to provide a right to privacy, specifically to prevent “the proliferation of government snooping and data collecting [that] is threatening to destroy our traditional freedoms”; and

WHEREAS, several law enforcement officials, including previous heads of the FBI, have decried the USA PATRIOT Act, directives from the Attorney General, and particular Executive Orders as unnecessary to the prosecution of, and protection from, terrorism; and

WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act, directives from the Attorney General, and particular Executive Orders seem to target foreign nationals and people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, and anyone who may legally speak or act to oppose government policy; and

WHEREAS, the policy of the Davis Police Department is that all detentions or stops must be supported by reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, and that all arrests and searches of person and/or property by officers in Davis must be based on a showing of probable cause, as required by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the City of Davis has a long and distinguished history of promoting and enforcing civil rights and civil liberties, especially during times of domestic and international conflicts; and

NOW THEREFORE, in keeping with the spirit and history of our community, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

1. The City of Davis has been, and remains, firmly committed to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties for all people including those who are citizens of other nations. We affirm this commitment to embody the spirit of democracy, to embrace and defend the human rights and civil liberties now under siege, to make those liberties viable for all, regardless of citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, racial identification, religious affiliation, age, or country of origin.

2. The City of Davis calls upon all private citizens, including residents, employers, educators, and business owners, to demonstrate similar respect for civil rights and civil liberties.

3. The City of Davis calls upon local law enforcement to join the city in affirming the following principles: Every person has the right to freedom of speech and association. Every person has the right to freedom of religion. Every person has the right to assembly and privacy. Every person has the right to due process in judicial proceedings. Every person has the right to counsel and attorney-client privilege. Every person has the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Stops or arrests may not be made without establishing reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. Every person has a right to equal protection under the law and the right not to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

4. No City of Davis employee or department shall officially assist or voluntarily cooperate with investigations, interrogations, or arrest procedures, public or clandestine, that violate the civil rights or civil liberties of people as specified in the above Amendments of the United States Constitution. No Davis Police officer shall spy on or gather information on religious or political meetings or rallies in the absence of some evidence that the organization is involved in terrorism or some other illegal activity.

5. The City of Davis and Davis Police Department reaffirms its commitment to unbiased policing and endorses the principle that no law enforcement or other city agency may profile or discriminate against any person on the basis of ancestry, race, ethnicity, national origin, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental disability or religion.

6. The City of Davis requests that Federal and State law enforcement officials who work within the city, do so in accordance with the policies of the Davis Police Department, and in cooperation with the Department, that they not engage in racial profiling or permit detentions without charges.

7. The City of Davis affirms its strong opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act, Justice Department directives, and Executive Orders that weaken or destroy our civil rights and liberties.

8. The City of Davis requests that the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and California Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement authorities and city departments regularly and publicly report to the City Council, the extent and manner in which they have acted under the USA PATRIOT Act, new Executive Orders, or COINTELPRO-type regulations, including the disclosure of the names of any detainees held in Northern California or any Davis residents detained elsewhere as an “enemy combatant.”

9. The City of Davis shall use all possible leverage to ensure that Federal and State law enforcement officials acting within the city work in accordance with the policies of the Davis Police Department, and in cooperation with the Department, and request that they not engage in law enforcement activities that threaten the civil rights and civil liberties of the people of Davis, such as surveillance, wiretaps, and securing of private information, which the USA PATRIOT Act and Executive Orders authorize. Organizations should not be monitored based on their religious or political views. No information about political, religious or social views, associations, or activities should be collected unless the information relates to public safety concerns or establishes suspicion of criminal activity or the potential for criminal activity.

10. The City of Davis requests that our United States Congress representatives monitor the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act, directives from the U.S. Attorney General, and Executive Orders cited herein and actively work for the repeal of the parts of that Act and withdrawal of those Justice Department directives and Executive Orders that violate fundamental rights and liberties as stated in the Constitutions of the State of California and the United States and in the UN Charter and the ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

11. The City of Davis shall send copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, the U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Congressional and Senate representatives, the Governor and Attorney General of the State of California, the Board of Supervisors of Yolo County, Sheriff of Yolo County, the Yolo County Librarian, the Chancellor of the University of California at Davis, and the President of the UC Board of Regents.