Bill of Rights Protection Zone
Resolution No. 2003-8
(A Resolution declaring Lansdowne a “Bill of Rights Protection Zone”, providing a message to citizens of the Borough and to Borough employees that the Borough government values civil rights and will work to protect them.)
WHEREAS, the Borough of Lansdowne is home to a diverse population, including citizens of other nations, whose contributions to the community are vital to its character and function, and
WHEREAS, the Borough of Lansdowne recognizes the Constitution of the United States of America to be the supreme law of the land, which all public servants are sworn to uphold, superceding all administrative rules, local ordinances, state statutes and federal laws; and
WHEREAS, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution guarantees those living in the United States the following rights:
- freedom of speech, assembly and privacy;
- protection from unreasonable searches and seizures;
- due process in judicial proceedings and access to counsel;
- protection from cruel and unusual punishment; and
- equality before the law and the presumption of innocence; and
WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the government from denying “to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”; and
WHEREAS, the Borough of Lansdowne 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 provisions of the USA Patriot Act expands the authority of the federal government to detain and investigate citizens and non-citizens and engage in electronic surveillance of citizens and non-citizens and threatens civil rights and liberties guaranteed under the United States Constitution; the Provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and Certain Executive Orders pursuant to enforcement of the Act that may violate the constitution and the rights and civil liberties of Lansdowne residents being as follows. They:
- Significantly expand the government’s ability to access sensitive medical, mental health, financial and educational records about individuals; and lower the burden of proof required to conduct secret searches and telephone and Internet surveillance
- Give law enforcement expanded authority to obtain library records, and prohibits librarians from informing patrons of monitoring or information requests
- Give the Attorney General and the Secretary of State the power to designate domestic groups, including religious and political organizations, as “terrorist organizations”
- Grant power to the Attorney General to subject citizens of other nations to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime. Authorize eavesdropping on confidential communications between lawyers and their clients in federal custody
- Limit disclosure of public documents and records under the Freedom of Information Act; and
WHEREAS, Department of Justice interpretations of this Act and these Executive Orders particularly targets Muslims, people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent and citizens of other nations, and thereby encouraging racial profiling by law enforcement and hate crimes by individuals in our community; and
WHEREAS, the Borough of Lansdowne recognizes that such infringement of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of any person, under the color of law, is an abuse of power, a breach of the public trust, a misappropriation of public resources, a violation of civil rights and is beyond the scope of governmental authority.
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Borough of Lansdowne remains firmly committed to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties for all people, and does therefore declare Lansdowne to be a “Bill of Rights Protection Zone” in which the Borough of Lansdowne condemns discrimination based on national or ethnic origin or political affiliation or absence of political affiliation in any function of borough government, and vigorously upholds the constitutionally protected rights of all persons to peacefully protest and express or develop their political views without governmental interference.
IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that the Borough of Lansdowne joins communities across the nation in expressing concern that the USA Patriot Act and associated Executive Orders threaten civil rights and liberties guaranteed under the United States Constitution.
IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED and is the policy of the Borough of Lansdowne to restrict borough employees, in the absence of probable cause of criminal activity from:
- The recording or filing of any information concerning any person or organization, such as the collection and review of library lending and research records, as well as book and video store sales and/or rental records, or information on citizen activities, creditworthiness, health, political activities except as required by law or for operation and service; and
- The retention of personal information. The Borough Manager is hereby directed to develop a unified records retention policy for all borough programs and departments. This policy must include procedures for permanent disposal of any and all information collected on citizens when there is no current probable cause for suspicion of criminal activity, except where those records are required by law or for operation and service. The policy will be reviewed by Council, with annual compliance reports submitted by department heads; and
- Profiling based on race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, or political values. Profiling is defined as any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, political values or national origin rather than the behavior of an individual or information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity.
IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council President or his designee will communicate this resolution to all borough departments, the Governor and Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the President and Attorney General of the United States of America and does hereby call upon our congressional representatives to actively work to repeal the USA Patriot Act.
IT IS FINALLY RESOLVED that this Resolution shall be severable if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision of this Resolution is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to the Constitution of the United States of America or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If the applicability thereof to any agency, person or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this Resolution and applicability thereof to any other agency, person or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
ADOPTED this 21st day of May, 2003, Anthony P. Campuzano, Council President
APPROVED this 21st day of May, 2003, Jayne C. Young, Mayor
ATTESTED, Barbara Henry, Secretary to Borough Council