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 email@example.com