Richmond is the third city in Virginia, 262 nd governing body in nation to oppose lawThe ACLU of Virginia today applauded the City of Richmond for adopting a resolution asking Congress to repeal parts of the USA Patriot Act that infringe on personal rights, liberties and due process. The “Safe and Free Resolution,” which passed city council on a 6-1 vote, makes Virginia’s capital the third city in the state and the 262 nd governing body in the nation to take aim at the increasingly unpopular law passed by Congress only few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“The bottom line of this resolution and the 261 others like it is that the people of this nation have the desire, creativity and the resources to maintain public safety while preserving our rights and liberties,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “By vastly expanding the government’s ability to invade our privacy, operate in secrecy and undermine due process for accused persons, the Patriot Act severely erodes the fundamental principles of individual freedom and fairness on which our nation was built.”
Copies of the Richmond resolution will be sent to the Governor of Virginia, Virginia’s congressional delegation, President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft. In addition to asking Congress to repeal the most controversial aspects of the Patriot Act, the resolution also directs libraries in the city to warn patrons that federal agents may obtain lists of the books they borrow. The Richmond Police Department is asked to refrain from targeting individuals for investigation or surveillance based on their political views, race, religion or nationality.
The City of Richmond resolution comes less than a week after Washington, D.C. passed a similar resolution. In Virginia, Alexandria and Charlottesville have also passed Safe and Free Resolutions.
In addition to 259 local governing bodies, three states-- Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont-- have also passed Safe and Free Resolutions. More than 43 million Americans live in the states and local jurisdictions with these resolutions.
Republican Delegate John J. Welch III sponsored an anti-Patriot Act bill in the Virginia General Assembly this year, but it was tabled in committee.
“With the Bush administration pushing for additional measures to infringe on our freedoms and Congress moving at a slow pace, the real momentum against the Patriot Act is building through a grassroots effort to pass Safe and Free resolutions,” added Willis.
The Richmond Safe and Free Coalition, which has sponsored educational programs on the dangers of the Patriot Act, proposed the resolution. The ACLU of Virginia is a member of the coalition.
Contacts: Kent Willis, Executive Diretor, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022 Aimee Perron, Legislative Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022