ACLU, others sponsoring event to be held in Richmond on October 22, 6-8 p.m.Third District Congressman Bobby Scott and John H. Hager, Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness, will be key panelists in a community forum on the Patriot Act and other freedom-threatening measures instituted in the wake of the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. The forum, which will be held at the Virginia Holocaust Museum on Wednesday, October 22 from 6-8 pm, is open to the public without charge.
Other panelists are Virginia Delegate Viola Baskerville, Imad Damaj with the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs, and Virginia Commonwealth University librarian Sarah Watstein. Speakers will entertain questions from the audience after making opening remarks.
The forum is sponsored by the Richmond Safe & Free Coalition, a collection of Richmond area organizations and individuals dedicated to educating the public about the erosion of liberties since 9/11. The Coalition intends to seek a formal “Safe & Free” resolution from Richmond City Council later this fall. The resolution will express opposition to many provisions of the Patriot Act while affirming the city’s commitment to civil rights and civil liberties.
Three states and more than 192 communities and have adopted similar resolutions opposing the Patriot Act. Adopted by Congress shortly after the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks, the Patriot Act is a sweeping measure that allows the government to operate in greater secrecy while broadly expanding its power to search, detain and spy on citizens and non-citizens.
In July, Charlottesville became the first city in Virginia to pass a “Safe and Free” resolution. Groups in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia are also seeking resolutions from local governing bodies.
“This is an excellent opportunity for people to learn about how our fundamental freedoms are being threatened and what they can do about it,” said ACLU of Virginia legislative director Aimee Perron. “No one is saying we shouldn’t be vigorously fighting terrorism, but we believe we can keep our communities safe without turning America into a police state.”
In addition to the ACLU of Virginia, groups that make up the Richmond Safe & Free Coalition are: Richmond Peace Education Center, Richmond NAACP, Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs, First Unitarian Church’s Peace and Justice group, Food Not Bombs, and Women in Black. The Virginia Holocaust Museum, the Virginia State Conference NAACP, and the Metro Richmond Area Young Democrats are co-sponsoring the event with the Coalition.
Contacts: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022 Aimee Perron, Legislative Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022