Upholding our rights

Concerned by the recent disclosure that the Denver Police Department kept secret and illegal files on hundreds of organizations, the AFSC urged a complete and thorough review of the activity, calling it a “new McCarthyism.”

The existence of the files came to light during a press conference, held by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where it was disclosed the Denver Police Department classified the 85-year old Nobel Peace prize-winning organization as “criminally extremist.”

“First there were Salem witch trials. Next came the red scare of the 40s and 50s. Then it was targeting of Martin Luther King, Jr,. and members of the civil rights movement. Today it’s hundreds of groups and individuals, who exercise their First Amendment right to speak out and express their views and opinions, that are unfairly targeted and labeled,” said AFSC general secretary Mary Ellen McNish.

While public awareness of illegal intelligence has no doubt increased since Watergate and subsequent revelations, such activities have burgeoned. Recent legislation, passed under the guise of the new “war on terrorism,” severely challenges basic democratic founding principles, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and prohibitions against illegal search and seizure.

“Unfortunately the current administration seems to be stuck in the past,” McNish commented. “We know from experience that trampling the Bill of Rights is not the answer. We need to honor and uphold our constitution by not eroding the very principles upon which our country was founded.”

The American Friends Service Committee is a Philadelphia-based organization known for practicing the Quaker principle of speaking truth to power.