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New Yorkers Rally for Resolution 909

Congressional Representatives, Council Members and civil rights, immigrant, and union groups joined hundreds of New Yorkers today for a rally in support of City Council Resolution 909. The bill calls on government officials to uphold civil liberties when prosecuting the war on terrorism. Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins introduced Resolution 909, and 31 out of 51 Council Members have since signed on as co-sponsors.

“Time is running out for the New York City Council to act on Resolution 909,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). “Resolution 909 is a principled response to the unprecedented expansion of executive powers in the last two years. The City Council should lead the nation in stating that our freedoms should not be abandoned in the name of national security.”

Resolution 909 has received widespread support from the public, elected officials, and a broad-based coalition of organizations. A majority of NYC Congressional Representatives recently sent a letter to Speaker Gifford Miller asking him to work for its immediate passage. Over 90 organizations have endorsed Resolution 909, including DC 37, NAACP, New York Public Library Guild, and American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee. And thousands of letters have been sent to Speaker Miller urging him to support Resolution 909.

“Resolution 909 calls for protections of our freedoms, and is a guide to law enforcement on effective means to prosecute the war on terrorism,” said Udi Ofer, project director of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign at the NYCLU, which has led the effort to bring the resolution before the New York City Council. “Violations of civil liberties, like ethnic and religious profiling or detaining people with no suspicion of criminal activity, do not work. They violate the Constitution and do not make us safer.” The Department of Homeland Security admitted as much yesterday when it halted special registration of immigrants, citing the fact that not a single terrorist was uncovered after tens of thousands of people were detained and interviewed.

Three states and over 215 communities from across the country have passed similar resolutions. Large cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, and small towns such as Sunset Valley, Texas (pop. 365) and Ridgway, Colorado (pop. 713) have declared themselves “Civil Liberties Safe Zones.”

With majority support, the Council is poised to pass Resolution 909. The only remaining hurdle is getting a vote scheduled for the last stated council meeting of the year on December 11. The decision to schedule the vote is in the hands of Speaker Miller, who has yet to come out for or against Resolution 909.

Glenn C. Devitt, volunteer chair of the New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign said, “This movement has brought on board three-fifths of City Council Members and a majority of New York City’s Congressional Representatives in support of Resolution 909. And today hundreds of concerned New Yorkers are out here today on their lunch hour, in the bitter cold, urging the City Council to stand up and let it be known that we are not willing to sacrifice our freedom in the name of security.”

Click here to see pictures from the rally on photographer Diane Greene Lent’s web site. Please note that this link takes you outside the NYCLU web site and that the NYCLU is not responsible for content on that site.

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