7-0 Against UPA (U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act)
Details of the Monday November 25 Eugene City Council meeting. 7-0 vote supporting a strong resolution against the UPA.
Eugene becomes 15th city nationwide to pass a resolution opposing the UPA!
Nearly 300 people filled City Hall to overflowing Monday, November 25 to urge the Eugene City Council to pass a resolution opposing the UPA and recent Executive Orders which violate our Constitutional guarantees.
As they waited outside in the cold for Chamber doors to be opened, the crowd chanted, "Dissent is Patriotic! This is What Democracy Looks Like!"
In order to accommodate the 50 residents who had signed up to speak, the Council extended the usual 30 minute public forum to 45 minutes, but cut the time each person could speak from 3 minutes to 2 minutes.
Speakers scrambled to cut a minute from their written testimony. A range of 22 speakers from young to old, from Arab-American, Japanese-American, Latino-American to European-American, from a range of income levels, and from all over the city, spoke from their hearts about the effects of the UPA on themselves, their neighbors and friends.
Fahrid (Fred) Hassan, a local business owner, and a Palestinian-American talked about the words of the Pledge of Allegiance "with liberty and justice for all." Misa Joo, a high school teacher, spoke of the ugly history of US internment camps, which affected her own family and parallels to today's detainments. Jennifer Self, a member of the Human Rights Commission which had endorsed the resolution, urged Councilors to consider the resolution a local issue -- not a national issue -- because it affects every person in Eugene with its broad and sweeping changes to more than 15 different statutes.
Alex Gonzalez, a student at the University of Oregon, who is supporting himself through college, gave a heartfelt appeal for passage of a resolution. Tamman Adi, of the Eugene Middle East Peace Group, told the Council it could write a letter, but that to really make a strong statement of friendship and equality, it must pass a resolution. Brian Michaels, an attorney working with the Lane County Bill of Rights Committee, gave a stirring talk about courage versus fear, and how important it is for Councilors to move out of the comfort zone, where they personally know they may not be affected by the UPA, but the citizens they are sworn to protect are.
Hope Marston, from the Lane County Bill of Rights Defense Committee, (author of this article) enumerated the large list of local groups endorsing the proposed resolution, and handed the Council about 2000 Eugene residents' signatures on petitions asking for a resolution. Portia, an 82 year old woman who regularly attends peace vigils, spoke of all she'd seen during her life, and said the UPA is one of the worst violators of freedoms she has witnessed.
The crowd stood and applauded for several minutes following the testimony. People had been prevented from applauding or showing any signal of support during the entire 45 minute Public Forum, as Mayor Torrey greeted each round of clapping with "I'll take a 5 minute recess [if I hear any more applause]!"
Four City Councilors were strongly in favor of passing a resolution; one of them a conservative Councilor whose stated aim was to defend the Bill of Rights. That Councilor, Gary Papé, was instrumental in the passage of the resolution, because two weeks ago, he said he would not vote for a resolution asking for the repeal of the UPA. So Lane County Bill of Rights Defense Committee activists changed the wording of the resolution last week to ask for revocation of the sections of the Act that limit or violate Constitutional guarantees. This small compromise brought Papé on board, and swung the vote towards passage of a resolution.
During Council debate on the issue, city staff told the Council that passing a resolution would only be symbolic -- would carry no legal weight, even though the resolution asks law enforcement to report specifics about how they have acted under the UPA. The resolution also states that to the greatest extent legally possible, no city resources will be spent to support the Act. Councilors amended that statement to read (roughly), "no city resources will be spent to support the unconstitutional portions of the Act."
The other amendment Councilors offered was to state that subpoenas issued specifically to "Eugene residents" through the United States Attorney's Office without a court's approval or knowledge be reported monthly and publicly to the Eugene City Council and Human Rights Commission, along with a list of requests for reporting detainments, surveillance, monitoring of religious and political meetings, and requests for educational, library and bookstore purchase records.
Eugene has now gone on record, along with 14 other local governments to oppose significant parts of the UPA and recent Executive Orders. And Eugene now has a city resolution -- we can hold our local officials responsible for checking in with law enforcement about those monthly and public reports they have asked for. We can urge law enforcement to comply. We can watchdog where city resources are going -- and raise a stink if we see our local tax dollars going to support the UPA. We can make sure this resolution is sent to our Congressional delegation and to the resident of the White House. Some may think this is only symbolic, but we have a good foundation for building citizen involvement in our local and federal processes and moving forward to expand our rights and freedoms.
Though a citizen's recourse on federal matters is usually through the courts or through writing to Congress -- those methods have been useless during the Bush Administration, with a largely craven Congress -- both parties of which continue to assert "bi-partisan" politics over protecting civil liberties and the rights of people. Though lower courts have attempted to overturn parts of the UPA, appeals courts have firmly denied that any rights exist beyond the UPA. And those difficulties have made it necessary for citizens throughout the country to band together to urge their city governments to pass resolutions in an attempt to draw attention to the fact that the Bush Administration has all but shredded the Constitution with the UPA, Executive Orders instating military tribunals, talk of torturing suspects, terms like "homeland security," "enemy combatants," and "total information awareness."
The work of the Lane County Bill of Rights Defense Committee is far from over. We will provide more community education about the UPA and its effects, bolstered in part by a recent grant for educational outreach from the McKenzie River Gathering. We will work to bring a resolution before the Springfield City Council and by the Lane County Board of Commissioners. Please continue to gather signatures from Lane County voters for our petition drive. Please continue to support the Lane County Bill of Rights Committee as it promotes education and understanding of these crucial issues which face us today. We also support the work of Bill of Rights Defense Committees in Benton County (Corvallis), in Portland, and in Ashland. Let's move towards statewide opposition to the UPA!
There are 35 local governments in 24 states working against the UPA and recent Executive Orders abrogating our Bill of Rights. See www.bordc.org for more information about how to start your own BORDC and how other groups have convinced their local governments to pass resolutions.
THANK YOU to the courageous Councilors who stood strong with us to pass this resolution: Betty Taylor, who guided our resolution through; Bonny Bettman, David Kelly and Gary Papé who stood firm. Thanks to Nancy Nathanson, Gary Rayor and Scott Meisner who helped make the vote 7-0 -- a solid victory for all of us who value human rights. And most of all -- thank you to the hundreds of people who stood up for our freedoms at Eugene City Hall on Monday, November 25. Some of them, never before politically active, some veterans at political activity. All now are witnesses to the importance of citizen involvement -- WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT! It is up to us to govern ourselves, and we showed that when we rise up, our leaders must listen!
We will have the full text of the resolution as passed when it becomes available. Meanwhile, here is a copy of our proposed resolution.
Proposed City of Eugene RESOLUTION
To Defend the Bill of Rights and Civil Liberties
Whereas the City of Eugene has been, and remains committed to the protection of civil rights and liberties for all people as expressed in the United States and the Oregon Constitutions,
The City of Eugene hereby reaffirms its support of the U.S. Constitution and the Oregon Constitution.
Whereas the City of Eugene's Mission Statement promises to respect the perspectives and lifestyles of our active and diverse citizenry and commits the city to providing a safe community where people feel secure and respected, and a local government that works openly and respectfully with and for the community,
We ask that the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Oregon State Police, and any other Federal, State law enforcement officials and local law enforcement with any such information report to the Eugene City Council and Human Rights Commission monthly and publicly the extent and manner in which they have acted under the USA PATRIOT Act and new Executive Orders, including but not limited to disclosing:
ˇ the names of any detainees held in the area or any Eugene residents detained here or elsewhere, the circumstances that led to each detention;
ˇ the charges, if any, lodged against each detainee;
ˇ the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;
ˇ the number of search warrants that have been executed in the City of Eugene without notice to the subject of the warrant pursuant to section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
ˇ the extent of electronic surveillance carried out in the City of Eugene under powers granted in the USA PATRIOT Act;
ˇ the extent to which federal authorities are monitoring political meetings, religious gatherings or other such activities within the City of Eugene;
ˇ the number of times education records have been obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in the City of Eugene under section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
ˇ the number of times library records have been obtained from libraries in the City of Eugene under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
ˇ the number of times that records of the books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in the City of Eugene under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and
ˇ subpoenas issued through the United States Attorney's Office without a court's approval or knowledge.
We resolve that, to the greatest extent legally possible, no city resources, particularly administrative or law enforcement funds, will be used for activities conducted under the USA PATRIOT Act or recent Executive orders which permit activities listed above.
IT IS FINALLY RESOLVED that the City of Eugene urges members of the Oregon Congressional delegation to actively work for the revocation of any sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, any proposed new Federal legislation and Executive Orders which limit or violate the fundamental rights and liberties embodied in the Municipal Ordinances of the City of Eugene and in the Constitutions of the State of Oregon and of the United States.
Please call these council members to thank them for their votes.
Gary Papé, 349-9939 Betty Taylor,338-9947
David Kelly,686-3343 Scott Meisner, 338-9946
Gary Rayor, 343-5070 Nancy Nathanson, 686-3446
Bonny Bettman 344-3150
As Peter DeFazio said in the Oct 20 issue of the Register-Guard, if enough cities pass resolutions, momentum may build for the repeal of the UPA. What we've done is more than symbolic!
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