Civil Rights Protection – Northampton

Date: 25 Nov 2008 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Passed unanimously by the Council on May 2, 2002.

Upon the Recommendation of Council President Michael Bardsley

Whereas, the City of Northampton has a long and distinguished history of protecting and expanding civil rights and civil liberties, often being a beacon for our country’s citizens when liberties are threatened; and

Whereas, the City of Northampton houses a diverse student and working population, including non-citizens, whose contributions to the community are vital to its character and function; and

Whereas, the City of Northampton has with gratitude for their supreme sacrifice memorialized those in the Armed Forces who have died in battle protecting these same cherished rights and liberties; and

Whereas, the City Council of Northampton, motivated by the commitment to "uphold the human rights of all persons in Northampton and the free exercise and enjoyment of any and all rights and privileges secured by our constitutions and laws of the United States, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Northampton," passed an ordinance in 1998 which established the Human Rights Commission of the City of Northampton; and

Whereas, several acts and orders recently enacted at the Federal level, including sections of the USA PATRIOT Act and several Executive Orders, now threaten these fundamental rights and liberties:

  • Freedom of speech, religion, assembly and privacy;
  • The rights to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and
  • Protection from unreasonable searches and seizures;

All guaranteed by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights;

Therefore, we the City Council of Northampton, Massachusetts, acting in the spirit and history of our community, do hereby request that:

1. Local law enforcement continue to preserve residents’ freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and privacy; rights to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures 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;

2. Federal and state law enforcement officials acting within the City work in accordance with the policies of the Northampton Police Department, and in cooperation with the Department, by not engaging in or permitting detentions without charges or racial profiling in law enforcement;

3. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Massachusetts State Police report to the Northampton Human Rights Commission regularly and publicly the extent to and manner in which they have acted under the USA PATRIOT Act, new Executive Orders, or COINTELPRO-type regulations, including disclosing the names of any detainees held in western Massachusetts or any Northampton residents detained elsewhere;

4. Our United States Congressman and Senators monitor the implementation of the Act and Orders cited herein and actively work for the repeal of the parts of that Act and those Orders that violate fundamental rights and liberties as stated in the Constitutions of the Commonwealth and the United States.