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Council approves resolution urging Patriot Act's repea

by C/O Diogenes Friday, May. 23, 2003 at 8:45 AM

"The ... government that is in power right now wants to do away with dissent," said Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward. "They want to make sure we stay indoors, that we stay silent."

EVANSTON REVIEW — May 22, 2003

Council approves resolution urging Patriot Act's repeal

BY BOB SEIDENBERG

CITY EDITOR

Evanston joined more than 100 other communities nationwide in approving a resolution Monday that condemned and called for repeal of the U.S.A. Patriot Act.

The controversial legislation was put in place to fight global terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.

People in the audience at Monday's City Council meeting, many of them activists both here and in Chicago, applauded and broke into cheers as council members voted 6-0, with one abstention, to approve the resolution.

Alderman Edmund B. Moran Jr., 6th Ward, cast the abstention, saying he needed more analysis of the details included in the resolution.

Moran cited his own experience as a lawyer handling many civil rights cases, and the need to study the act "with the comprehensiveness it requires."

In addition, he questioned whether the council's focus shouldn't be "on the stuff we can do to improve lives in Evanston."

Other speakers, however, said the city's stand on the Patriot Act was appropriate and in keeping with Evanston's liberal tradition.

In January of this year, aldermen had passed another resolution, urging the United States not to enter into a war with Iraq.

"The ... government that is in power right now wants to do away with dissent," said Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward. "They want to make sure we stay indoors, that we stay silent."

He said his own son, who was arrested in anti-war demonstrations several months ago, is a victim of such practices.

He said the government continues to seek continuances on the case against demonstrators, in a message to protesters "not to stand up, because to stand up upsets the apple cart."

Nearly 20 speakers echoed similar views during citizen comment, except for Evanston resident Robert Atkins, a local attorney best known for his work on neighborhood zoning issues.

Atkins told council members that the disagreement some might have over the merits of the Patriot Act -- whether it is an important tool in the fight against global terrorism, or whether it damages civil liberties -- is "beside the point."

"I submit that your constituents did not elect you as aldermen to debate and pass on issues of war and peace and second guess the action made by Congress and the President of the United States," he said. "Nor were you elected to office based on your views of foreign and domestic policy.

"Evanston has a well-deserved national reputation as a community strengthened by the diversity of its citizenry," Atkins continued. "That reputation is in jeopardy if this council continues passing resolutions such as anti-war and Patriot Act resolutions, which officially puts our diverse community in a partisan political uniform many of us choose not to wear."

But all other speakers on the issue praised the council for taking a stand, citing the need to speak out against the abuses of the federal legislation.

Madeline Goldstein, one of the residents who had led the movement to get the council to consider the proposal, spoke of the damaging effect of the Patriot Act.

"The terrorists have won," she declared. ""We have become the people we despise. We are no longer safe in our homes or have any privacy. We can't travel, ask questions, do any kind of personal transactions, read what we want, or say what we believe. Our lives are being monitored."

And Jeff Frank, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, called the legislation "one of the most unpatriotic acts enacted by Congress."

By adopting the resolution, City Council members are showing a willingness "to take a stand against the abridgment of our civil rights," he said.

Moreover, he said, they are "sending a message to the Bush administration that Evanston takes its civil liberties seriously."

Council passage of the resolution will set other moves into action concerning the Patriot Act. They include informing the council of any action, expenditure of funds or activity by a city department in connection with Patriot Act provisions; and a direction to staff to post warnings about the act at appropriate city facilities.



Copyright© 2003, Digital Chicago Inc.

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The Price of Liberty... Diogenes Friday, May. 23, 2003 at 8:47 AM

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