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New York And Suffolk County Join Communities Across The Country Urging Patriot Act Reform

The New York Civil Liberties Union has joined in a national campaign to reform the Patriot Act. Around the country, elected officials, community leaders and grassroots activists are picking up the pace to make sure the Patriot Act is fixed, not expanded.

“Nearly 400 communities — including seven states –- have passed resolutions calling on Congress to amend the Patriot Act to restore basic checks and balances,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “It is time for concerned Americans to come together and let Congress know that we expect them to protect our rights and civil liberties.”

As part of the national campaign, ACLU members will also be reaching out to their neighbors in communities like New York City and Suffolk County, Long Island, about how the Patriot Act affects them. For example, activists in New York will take to the streets wearing “sign” boards that display personal information, like “I took Viagra this morning” and “I keep a handgun hidden in my home office.” Their message: the Patriot Act puts Americans’ privacy at risk by allowing law enforcement agencies access to medical, financial, religious, and gun purchase records. NYC Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, a project of the NYCLU, held an organizational meeting last night, attended by nearly 100 activists, to discuss their participation in the national campaign. A similar meeting was held in Stony Brook, LI.

In addition, current provisions of the law allow law enforcement agencies to conduct secret searches of Americans’ homes or offices. The ACLU has unveiled a new Web site,, to help Americans speak out and get more involved in the fight to protect the Constitution. Through this Web site, people can contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose efforts to expand and make the Patriot Act permanent. They can also urge their lawmakers to, at a minimum, support the common-sense reforms in the bipartisan SAFE Act.

On Thursday, June 16th, New York City Council Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins and Suffolk Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher joined other local elected officials from communities across the country in Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders in Congress about the Patriot Act. The local elected officials, which represent communities that have passed resolutions calling for Patriot Act reform, will deliver copies of those resolutions, and remind lawmakers that their constituents want the Patriot Act brought in line with the Constitution.

New York City passed a resolution calling for modest reforms of the most extreme parts of the Patriot Act on February 4, 2004; similar legislation is in committee in Suffolk County.

“In the coming weeks, Congress will debate whether some of the Patriot Act’s most sweeping provisions should be reauthorized and expanded,” said Udi Ofer, NYCLU staff attorney and Project Director of the NYCBORDC. “We encourage Americans here in New York and across the country to join the fight to restore checks and balances, and bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution.”

Further reading:

  • Let the sun set on the Patriot Act
  • Abuses of the Patriot Act
  • Restoring checks and balances to the Patriot Act

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