Seattle, WA Commitment to Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

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Seattle, WA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 2/18/03

Vote: Unanimous (with 3 excused)

Source File: Click here


RESOLUTION Number: 30578
A RESOLUTION affirming the City of Seattle's commitment to protecting the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of all Seattle Residents.

WHEREAS, Congress passed the so-called USA Patriot Act (PL 107-56) on October 26, 2001, following the horrific attacks on America of September 11, 2001; and

WHEREAS, many provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other related Federal orders and measures may pose a threat to the civil rights and civil liberties of the residents of our City, particularly to those who are immigrants of Middle Eastern, Muslim or South Asian descent, by potentially:

a. Reducing judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance.
b. Expanding the government's power to conduct secret searches without warrants.
c. Granting power to the Secretary of State to designate domestic groups, including political and religious groups, as "terrorist organizations".
d. Granting power to the Attorney General to subject non- citizens to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime.
e. Granting the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) access to sensitive medical, mental health, financial and educational records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime.
f. Granting the FBI the power to compel libraries and bookstores to produce circulation or book purchase records of their patrons, and forbidding disclosure that such records have been requested and produced; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle honored the memory of victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, through Resolution 30434, by denouncing acts of violence and intolerance against all people, and affirming the civil rights of people of all ethnic and ideological backgrounds; and

WHEREAS, a nation headed to a foreign war must do everything in its power to lessen fear at home and reinforce constitutional protections for those who in wartime may be victimized; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle is proud of its long and distinguished tradition of protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of all its residents and affirming the fundamental rights of all people; and

WHEREAS, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution of the State of Washington guarantee all people living in the City of Seattle freedom of speech, assembly and privacy, equality before the law and the presumption of innocence, access to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings, and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures; and

WHEREAS, the preservation of civil rights and civil liberties is a pillar of American society and is essential to the well-being of any democracy, particularly during times of conflict when such rights and liberties, especially those of immigrants and ethnic minorities, may be threatened, intentionally or unintentionally, under false pretense of national security or patriotic zeal; and

WHEREAS, through the "Seattle Police Intelligence Ordinance" (Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 14.12; Ordinance 108333 as amended by Ordinance 110572 and Ordinance 110640), the City of Seattle was the first city in the United States to prohibit by law the collection and maintenance of information about the political, religious or social views, associations or constitutionally protected activities of subjects who are neither involved in criminal activity, suspected of involvement in criminal activity, nor charged with involvement in criminal activity; and

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle denounces terrorism, and acknowledges that federal, state and local governments have a responsibility to protect the public from terrorist attacks, but should do so in a rational, deliberative and lawful fashion to ensure that any new security measure enhances public safety without impairing constitutional rights or infringing upon civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, law enforcement and security measures that undermine fundamental rights do irreparable damage to the American institutions and values of equal justice and freedom that the residents of the City of Seattle hold dear; and

WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Seattle believes that there is not and need not be conflict between security and the preservation of liberty, and that residents of this City and this nation can be both safe and free; and

WHEREAS, cities and counties in more than 20 states, including major cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and liberties in response to the USA PATRIOT Act and other government policies that threaten these values, and demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding their use of these new powers


AFFIRM the City of Seattle's abhorrence of, and opposition to global terrorism and our unqualified support for the men and women serving in our armed forces.

AFFIRM the City of Seattle's support for the fundamental, constitutionally protected civil rights and liberties of all our residents, and oppose those measures that infringe upon such civil rights and liberties or that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based solely on their country of origin, religion, ethnicity or immigration status.

AFFIRM the City of Seattle's support for the Seattle Police Intelligence Ordinance (Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 14.12; Ordinance 108333 as amended by Ordinance 110572 and Ordinance 110640) and endorse its independent Civilian Oversight.

RESOLVE that the City of Seattle will vigorously resist any unconstitutional acts against its citizens under the USA PATRIOT Act, including invasion of privacy, expanded surveillance, and denial of due process that may come from application of the USA PATRIOT Act.

REQUEST that City of Seattle Departments with jurisdiction over facilities frequented by the public post copies of the Bill of Rights in prominent locations within such buildings.

URGE the Seattle Library Board of Trustees to notify patrons of the Seattle Public Library that their library records may be subject to disclosure to law enforcement officials under provisions of the Patriot Act, and that librarians may under some circumstances be forbidden from disclosing that certain records have been requested or obtained.