for your rights: Melanie Trimble. Photo
by John Whipple.
Us Back Our Liberties
advocates pleaded their case to the Albany Common Council
this week, condemning the USA P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act for infringing
on citizens’ basic constitutional freedoms.
As reported last week [Newsfront, March 13], Alderman Dominick
Calsolaro (Ward 1) presented the Common Council Monday with
a resolution asking federal and local law-enforcement within
the city not to infringe on its citizens’ constitutional rights
while engaged in terrorism-related investigations. The resolution
was sent to committee for further review before a vote will
Critics of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act often point to the “slippery
slope” theory—the fear that powers granted by the act to combat
terrorism could be expanded over time by the federal government
and used to repress public dissent.
can see it happening,” Calsolaro said, referring to an event
in Montpelier, Vt., on March 5, where high school students
staged a walkout to protest the war in Iraq. Local police
officers were seen taking pictures of the students involved
in the peaceful protest.
people aren’t doing anything wrong. Why are you taking pictures
of them?” Calsolaro wondered. “It’s a deterrent for people
coming out to protest. People have a right to protest.”
The city of Montpelier apparently agreed. On March 12, the
City Council decided to have the photos destroyed. It also
came to the conclusion that the police should not have been
taking the photos in the first place, according to a March
13 article in Times Argus.
Calsolaro also expressed concern over the fact that the P.A.T.R.I.O.T.
Act can allow law-enforcement officials to investigate individuals
who are not suspected of an actual crime.
shouldn’t be stopped or have a search warrant put on me to
see what books I’m reading [because] I’m a member of a club
or a church or a religion,” Calsolaro said. “I just don’t
think it’s right.”
Calsolaro said he has heard from many people in the region
expressing their concern over the federal legislation.
Melanie Trimble, Executive Director of New York Civil Liberties
Union (NYCLU) Capital Region Chapter, spoke at the public
feel that if local communities rise up and say . . . this
P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act was pushed through Congress without any
public hearings or debate, and we feel they went too far,”
Trimble said. “The provisions in the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act that
are unconstitutional should not be supported by local enforcement
Nationwide, 71 cities have passed resolutions against the
P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, according to the Bill of Rights Defense