Fighting back, one city at a time 

In the year sin

In the year since the USA PATRIOT Act was passed without debate in Congress, opposition has been steadily brewing against the legislation, slowly at first, and recently with greater vigor.
An example from the Know Your Place, Shut Your Face site
The struggle is being waged on the literal home front, and it"s getting noticed. Last week, The New York Times devoted front-page coverage to the nationwide effort to get cities and towns to pass resolutions affirming their commitment to civil rights, specifically in the face of any federal effort to compromise civil rights in terrorism investigations. Twenty-one jurisdictions have passed such legislation, with dozens more efforts underway elsewhere. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, an online organizing effort based in Massachusetts, has dubbed the efforts "Civil Liberties Safe Zones." Meanwhile, in Congress, Vermont Independent Rep. Bernard Sanders has announced his intention to introduce legislation this month that will exempt libraries and bookstores from the PATRIOT Act. The effort has inspired Indianapolis resident Michael Vander Sande to begin the first steps of assembling an effort to encourage local lawmakers to pass such resolutions. "I thought to myself, "Why can"t I try this here? Why can"t Indiana be a part of this?"" Vander Sande said. "The first step would be to find a group of like-minded people and getting petitions signed. All the steps are there. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has a template that has been passed in other cities. I have a five page resolution ready to go." The key provisions of the resolution maintain that local law enforcement officials must continue to preserve fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure "even if requested or authorized to infringe upon these rights by federal law enforcement acting under new powers granted by the USA PATRIOT Act or orders of the Executive Branch." The efforts, even the successful ones, are largely symbolic, and are only the first steps of what Vander Sande knows will be a long process. His hope is to draw attention to the cause, bring together various organizations and like-minded individuals in the effort and educate the public about the PATRIOT Act. "The major effect of this is alerting folks to the damage that is being done to the Bill of Rights, especially the First, Fifth and Sixth amendments," he said. "It"s a way of telling people, "Hey, here"s what the government is going to do, and what it says it CAN do." My hope is that it will educate people and encourage them to get involved." Vander Sande can be contacted at
Get informed and get involved
Bill of Rights Defense Committee: The central clearinghouse for anti-PATRIOT Act movements, complete with information on how to organize local movements and resolutions. A template of the legislation introduced in many cities and towns nationwide can be found here. Citizen"s Action Coalition: The Indianapolis chapter of the Citizen"s Action Coalition, dedicated to economic and environmental justice. They are active in such issues as the energy crisis, farming, nuclear power and campaign finance. Indiana Civil Liberties Union: State chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, dedicated to restraint of government and defense of individual constitutional liberties. Current issues include opposition to profiling of Muslim Americans and opposition to the Total Information Awareness department. Move On: Move On is a group claiming hundreds of thousands of members, whose stated goal is to bring ordinary citizens back into politics using electronic advocacy and organizing. Their efforts recently paid for a New York Times ad pleading, "We can win without war." Move On"s trademark is the "flash campaign," a blitz to get hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, phone calls, letters or demonstration marchers on the move for a particular issue in a short period of time. Buzzflash: The anti-Drudge Report, moving a continual series of headlines on progressive issues from all around the Internet throughout the day. Michael Moore: The site of the filmmaker behind Roger and Me and Bowling For Columbine. The message boards here are starting grounds for information on local and national movements. Common Dreams: A series of essays and news updates on progressive causes. Russell Mokhiber"s frequent sparring matches with White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer are collected in the amusing "Ari & I" series, in which Fleischer gives hilariously evasive answers to questions like "What was the president thinking when he appointed an alleged war criminal to investigate a war crime?" Know Your Place! Shut Your Face!: Television and comic book writer Micah Wright masterminds a series of parody propaganda posters that evoke and mercilessly skewer the stylized ads of the 1940s. AlterNet: An assortment of headlines and essays from alternative news sources around the Web. The Buy Bush a Playstation 2 Campaign: Perhaps the most creative of the anti-war movements, this campaign seeks to head off war with Iraq by providing George W. Bush with a Playstation 2 and several war-themed games, with the stated goal that he "use them, rather than the lives of Iraqi civilians and our U.S. servicemen, to fulfill any militaristic fantasies."

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