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Civil Liberties Advocates Testify Before NYC Council, Supporting Resolution To Protect Individual Freedoms In War On Terrorism

A broad-based coalition of legislators, relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks, civil rights and civil liberties lawyers, and immigrant, union and community advocates testify today at City Hall in support of the Defense of Bill of Rights Resolution. Resolution 909 calls upon government officials to affirm and uphold the constitutional protections of privacy, political expression and due process of law in the face of the government’s aggressive anti-terrorism initiatives.

“Resolution 909 is a vitally important legislative and political statement, said Donna Lieberman, the Executive Director of the NYCLU. “It calls for greater government accountability and transparency in the exercise of new post-9/11 executive branch powers; the resolution is a reasonable and principled response to the unprecedented expansion of state police powers in the past two years.”

The New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign has led the effort to bring the resolution before the City Council. The Campaign is a project of the NYCLU, in coalition with 82 organizations, including the NAACP, New York Public Library Guild, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Council on American-Islamic Relations, National Association of Korean Americans, and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign is part of a growing national movement to hold government accountable for the infringements on civil rights and liberties since 9/11. Three states and over 190 counties, cities, towns, and villages have passed similar resolutions, including large cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, and small towns such as Sunset Valley, Texas (pop. 365) and Ridgway, Colorado (pop. 713).

“Resolution 909 affirms NYC’s respect for civil liberties and civil rights,” said Council Member Bill Perkins, the resolution’s primary sponsor. “Even as we are dealing with the tragedy of 9/11, we as a city and as Americans cannot allow civil liberties and basic constitutional protections that we hold hear to be destroyed.”

Nationally, the American Conservative Union, Gun Owners of America, and the American Eagle Forum have joined the American Civil Liberties Union in calling for the protection of rights and liberties threatened by government anti-terrorism initiatives. “Conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, all Americans should stand behind the Constitution, for it is the one thing—when all is said and done—that will keep us a free people and a signal light of true liberty for the world,” said Republican Congressman Bob Barr, now with the American Conservative Union.

The resolution calls for:

  • repeal of USA PATRIOT Act provisions that violate civil liberties and rights;
  • an end to ethnic and religious profiling;
  • an end to spying on First Amendment-protected activities;
  • NYPD assurances to refrain from subjecting NYC residents to secret detentions;
  • release of the names of all residents secretly detained since 9/11;
  • an end to “sneak and peek” searches without notice or probable cause.

“It is time for NYC to join Albany, Syracuse, and other counties, cities, and towns across New York State that have already passed resolutions stating that there is a way to be both safe and free,” said Udi Ofer, Director of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign.
Twenty-nine Council Members have already signed on as primary sponsors of Resolution 909: Maria Baez, Charles Barron, Tracy Boyland, Gale Brewer, Yvette Clarke, Leroy Comrie, Bill de Blasio, Pedro Espada, Jr., Helen Foster, Alan Gerson, Robert Jackson, Allan Jennings, Oliver G. Koppell, John Liu, Margarita Lopez, Hiram Monserrate, Eva Moskowitz, Bill Perkins, Christine Quinn, Philip Reed, Diana Reyna, Joel Rivera, James Sanders, Jr., Larry Seabrook, Jose Serrano, Kendall Stewart, Albert Vann, David Weprin, and David Yassky.

Testimonies at the hearing will be provided by: Congressman Jerrold Nadler, NY-08; Congressman Bob Barr, American Conservative Union; Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, NYCLU; Pat Perry, Mother of NYPD officer lost on 9/11; Adel Welty, 9/11 Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow; Margaret Fung, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Monica Tarazi, Director, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – New York; Nancy Chang, Senior Litigation Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights; Omar Mohammedi, Legal Advisor, Council on American Islamic Relations; Moe Razvi, Executive Director, Council of Pakistan Organization; Rev. Peter Laarman, Judson Memorial Church; Bryan Pu-Folkes, Executive Director, New Immigrant Community Empowerment; Roberta Cooper, People for the American Way – NY; Udi Ofer, Director, New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, NYCLU; Nancy E. Young, volunteer, New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign.

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