ANN ARBOR, Mich. – By a 9-2 vote, the Ann Arbor City Council passed a “resolution to safeguard the civil liberties of Ann Arbor residents,” according to a statement by the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union. The resolution expresses the city’s opposition to the repressive USA Patriot Act pushed through Congress by the Bush administration.

Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU, said, “More and more people around the country are objecting to the way that this administration is conducting its ‘war on terrorism.’” Moss welcomed Ann Arbor’s resolution and called it part of a growing national “suspicion” of the Bush administration’s domestic security policies. Over 130 cities have adopted similar statements.

Ann Arbor’s resolution, developed in close communication with the city’s police chief, Dan Oates, asks the police department to keep in contact with the city council about the efforts of federal officials to obtain information about Ann Arbor residents. It also requires the police chief to stop enforcing federal immigration laws inserted into the Patriot Act, unless he deems a “legitimate public safety concern.” It requires other city officials to report to the city council any federal surveillance of Ann Arbor residents who are engaged in First Amendment activities.

City Council member Bob Johnson (D-1st Ward) expressed his shock at the continuing effort of the federal government to hide the names of detainees held since Sept. 11. He told the packed council chamber before the vote, “People are being held and we can’t even find out what their names are. This is so outrageous. It is an outrage to the Constitution.”

Mary Bejian, of the Safe and Free Campaign, which supported the resolution, said that it will increase community trust in local law enforcement and will “send a message to Washington that yet another city in the United States does not support the current dismantling of the Constitution.” The Safe and Free Campaign, locally, was endorsed by hundreds of area residents and local organizations such as the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and the Washtenaw County ACLU.

The author can be reached at jwendland@politicalaffairs.net

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