CHICAGO – On July 9 a multiracial coalition of aldermen submitted a strongly worded resolution to the Chicago City Council calling for repeal of the USA Patriot Act.

The act was approved by Congress with no debate on Oct. 26, 2001, in the atmosphere of the aftermath of Sept. 11. Many congressmen have since admitted that they never even read the act before voting in favor of it. Since that time, as the contents of the act, seen by civil libertarians and many others as a frontal assault on First Amendment and due process rights, have become more widely known, a national movement has grown up calling for its repeal.

Part of this movement has consisted of a wave of resolutions in city councils and county and state legislatures calling for the repeal of the act and non-cooperation with its repressive measures. So far, more than 130 city and county governments and three states (Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont) have adopted such resolutions, all of which can be read on line at bordc.org, the website of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Northampton, Mass., which started the resolution campaign.

If Chicago approves the resolution, it will be the largest city to do so to date. Other major cities which have passed such resolutions include Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and Tucson.

As soon as the Chicago resolution was presented, no fewer than 31 of the 50 aldermen expressed their intention to support it. Though the group of aldermen who announced their support cross cuts Chicago’s usual political divisions between “regular” and “independent” Democrats, it is also true that support for the resolution is especially high among African American and Latino aldermen. Still more aldermen are expected to sign on before the vote.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org

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