Sacramento says no to Patriot Act

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a jam-packed room filled with hundreds of community members, the Sacramento City Council voted 8-1 on Nov. 13 to support a resolution opposing the Patriot Act’s unconstitutional provisions. Sacramento thereby became the 203rd U.S. city to do so.

“I was moved by your testimony, not only by the words but by the breadth of community groups represented here tonight,” said Mayor Heather Fargo as she called for the vote at 11:30 p.m.

The crowd both inside and outside the Council chambers (over 100 waited outside for seats) was a diverse array of Sacramentans from different ethnic groups, religious beliefs and political views. Many were supporters of the Sacramento Coalition to Stop the Patriot Act. Thirty speakers delivered testimony, including representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and Physicians for Social Responsibility, both of who staunchly opposed it.

In the end, only Councilman Robbie Waters voted for against the resolution. In spite of a compelling 15-minute presentation by coalition members Keith Wagner, Jason Rabinowitz, Stella Levy and Rashad Baadqir on how the Act attacks civil rights and liberties, Waters concluded that there was “no evidence of any violation of civil rights under the Patriot Act.”

Councilman Lauren Hammond, who introduced the resolution, said, “This resolution declares that our civil rights and liberties should not be abridged. … We’ve been down this road before with Joe McCarthy during the anti-communist scare and during World War II, when our government put Italian, German and Japanese Americans in detention camps. We’ve already done this and it doesn’t make us more secure.”

Rashad Baadqir, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, agreed. “The USA Patriot Act goes against the very foundation of living in a free and open society,” he said.

For an up-to-date list of the states, counties, cities, and towns that have rejected the Act, visit www.bordc.org.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.