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News ::
Hundreds Rally in Defense of Civil Liberties for All
23 Jun 2002
Modified: 26 Jun 2002
On June 22, hundreds gathered on the Boston Common for a rally to defend the civil liberties of all, both citizens and immigrants, against the repressive measures of the Bush administration. At any one point, there were 300 people gathered, but there was also a heavy turn over, indicating that many more than that came through in support.
Hundreds Rally in Defense of Civil Liberties for All
By Matthew Williams

Saturday, 06/22/02; Boston, MA--Hundreds gathered from 1:00 to 5:00 on the Boston Common for a rally to defend the civil liberties of all, both citizens and immigrants, against the repressive measures of the Bush administration and the so-called USA PATRIOT Act passed by Congress. It was a relatively diverse crowd, with people of many cultures, races and religions standing together to defend civil liberties. At any one point, there were 300 people gathered, but there was also a heavy turn over in the crowd, indicating that many more than that came through over the day to show their support. The rally featured an energizing mix of speakers and musicians performing in a wide array of genres, from hip-hop to traditional Arab music.

Nancy Murray, coordinator of the Civil Liberties Task Force of the Massachusetts ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), explained why the ACLU and other groups had organized the rally: “It’s time we took a stand against the USA PATRIOT Act and the things the government has been doing since September 11, like ending confidentiality between lawyers and their clients in federal prisons; things like holding now not only immigrants but American citizens and denying them rights of due process; things like arresting a lawyer and accusing her of transmitting information to terrorists when she was just defending her client; things like this real obsession with secrecy--Attorney General Ashcroft wrote to federal agencies and told them not to honor the Freedom of Information Act. They’re really trying to do things in secret, which is not the American way. If we do not have open government, what is democracy?”

The so-called PATRIOT Act was passed by Congress on October 26, 2001. It gives sweeping new powers to the federal government to investigate political and religious groups, including those not suspected of any wrong-doing. The FBI and CIA can spy on groups through phone-tapping and e-mail monitoring without having to provide any justification to a court and can gain search warrants for people’s homes again without any justification. The Attorney General can designate any group he chooses as “terrorist” without any independent review. Immigrants with even the most minor ties to these groups can be held indefinitely, even on such grounds as minor visa violations; if they can not be deported to their home countries, the US government can keep them in prison for life. Since 9-11, the US government has held incommunicado over 1,000 immigrants from the Middle East; it has refused to release even their names, despite court orders to do so.

Gabriel Camacho, president of the Massachusetts Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, gave a local example of the sort of repression that has become all too common since 9-11: “The Logan 19 are a group of nineteen immigrant workers mostly from Latin America, who were employed for various cleaning companies at Logan Airport here in Boston. On February 27, the FBI and INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] raided the homes of individual immigrant workers from Logan Airport, busted down their doors, shackled people, using high-powered rifles and automatic weapons in order to get into their homes. There was no firefight at all. What they’ve been charged with is using falsified information in order to get jobs in a federal area, which here just means an airport. They were arrested and some were released conditionally with ankle bracelets, some had to report to probation officers twice a day during the middle of the day, making it impossible fore them to seek gainful employment.”

The US government has justified these measures as necessary to protect Americans’ security now that we know we are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Numerous pundits have supported them in the corporate-owned mass media, arguing that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact”.

Murray disagreed that these measures were necessary for security: “Let’s look at how we really could make ourselves more safe. How could we really stop terrorists? Can we stop terrorism by giving up our freedoms or do we stop terrorism by improving airport security, by improving the performance of the FBI and CIA, by really looking at the security lapses that allowed this to happen? In fact, by giving up our freedoms we have left ourselves vulnerable to another attack--the FBI will be so busy conducting these broad fishing expeditions instead of really following the wrong-doers that it will basically be all tied up, it will have too much information coming in. If you look at the PATRIOT Act, what they have done will not make us more safe; what it will do is take our privacy and overwhelm the intelligence agencies with information. They have not demonstrated any of those powers are necessary to increase security.”

Camcho said deeper social changes were needed: “If we want to protect security in our country, we need decent jobs at living wages, we need a sane foreign policy based on human rights and not on corporate greed. That’s the only way we’re going our to secure our future, not by funding right-wing assassination squads in Latin America, or fanatical groups elsewhere in the world. This eventually comes back to the United States and haunts us,” the last referring to the fact that al-Qaeda was starting with funding from the CIA as part of its efforts to drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.

The new repression of civil liberties will likely have especially dire consequences for immigrants. Murray said, “A lot of people seem to think, ‘As long as the government is targeting immigrants, that doesn’t matter. We’re not terrorists; if they are, they should be targeted.’ What we’re saying is that they’re taking away the rights of people who do deserve fair treatment under our Constitution. It won’t just affect immigrants; we’re all in this together.”

State Representative Byron Rushing pointed out in his speech, “This is a nation of immigrants. The pilgrims, the settlers in Jamestown, the Puritans were all undocumented immigrants--they were all illegal. When we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are celebrating the fact that the indigenous people [Native Americans] did not fingerprint them, that the indigenous people did not have an INS.”

Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus of History at Boston University, said in his speech, “We are under occupation by an alien power--our government. Something that’s alien is something that doesn’t belong. Well, our government doesn’t belong in a country with the Bill of Rights. We often refer to people from elsewhere as aliens, but they are not aliens, they are just human beings.”

Many of the rally’s speakers said that grim times lie ahead politically. Camacho said, “Every time there is an economic crisis and or a political-global crisis, the United States government scapegoats immigrants.” Various speakers pointed to numerous examples of previous repression by the US government--the Palmer raids in which immigrant labor and community organizers were deported in the 1920s; the internment in concentration camps of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans during World War II; the anti-Communist hysteria of McCarthyism during the 1950s; and the FBI’s COINTELPRO program that illegally spied on and sabotaged progressive organizations during 1960s and 70s.

Camacho said, “I think this repression has dealt quite a substantial blow to the anti-globalization movement. I think one of the real aims of this PATRIOT Act is to attack the anti-globalization movement in a way that we haven’t yet seen. We know from experiences in Washington DC on April 16 2000 that security forces raided a Convergence Center and they confiscated a lot of the giant puppets for the reason that the activists had bomb-making material. This bomb-making material happened to be turpentine and other stuff that you use to make puppets. I believe now that groups are going to be infiltrated, there’s going to be more liberal use of wire-tapping and home invasions.” Under the broad language of the so PATRIOT Act, even nonviolent civil disobedience could plausibly be defined as terrorism.

Zinn said, “The government would like us to forget about the Declaration of Independence, the founding philosophical document of this country. It says governments are artificial and meant to protect our rights. If they violate these rights, we have the right to overthrow them. If we have the right to overthrow our government, surely we have the right to protest our government. We must declare our independence of this government.”

****

For more information on the ACLU’s Civil Liberties program, visit their website (http://www.aclu.org/safeandfree/index.html) or call Nancy Murray at 617-482-3170, x. 314. For more information on the Logan 19, see http://www.nlgmass.org/chapter/loganpress.html.
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Comments

Keep it up !!
24 Jun 2002
Great story, thanks for posting it. As a former resident of Boston, it's great for me to see that there's active resistance going on there to the pall of fascism rapidly falling over us. Keep it up !!
Educate Yo'Self!
24 Jun 2002
First of all, neither the Bush-Cheney regime nor the vast majority of "our" Congress was lawfully elected:

egroups.com/group/jpchance/links/Elections_000993420693

And if the "progressive" (toward what?!) Gore-Lieberman regime had been SELECTED by the "Big Boys", this ATTEMPTED crackdown on genuine civil liberties by GLOBAL POWER PLAYERS would be WORSE, because it would be done in the name of slick "liberalism".

If the ACLU, AFSC, BGAN, UFE, ANSWER, Republicrats, corporate "libertarians", pseudo-Greens and other local "civil rights" groups refuse to discuss the core issues - WHO and HOW "our" elections, "our" media", "our" money and "our" military is manipulated - then such groups are just puppet protestors wasting time on puppet politicians.

Follow the money....

egroups.com/group/jpchance/links/Treasury_000993420879

And don't let schooling interfere with your education.
See also:
egroups.com/group/jpchance/links
Next step June 29 in D.C.
24 Jun 2002


The most important thing we can all do is build a big movement against the growing government repression.

On Saturday June 29, there will be a march on the FBI and Justice Department in Washington D.C. sponsored by International A.N.S.W.E.R.

There will also be demos in other cities in the U.S. and abroad both on 6/28 and 6/29. For information go to www.internationalanswer.org.
Down with Big Brother!
25 Jun 2002

Nat Hentoff has a piece in the July Progressive about Western Mass civic actions addressing the "Patriot Act". The full text is at:
http://www.progressive.org/July%202002/hent0702.html

Excerpt:

"In Northampton, Massachusetts--a nineteenth century center of abolition and the longtime home of Sojourner Truth--some 400 citizens attended a town meeting on February 4 to organize a way to protect the residents of the town from the provisions of the USA Patriot Act. Thus was born the Northampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
After petitions were distributed, along with persistent organizing, the Northampton City Council unanimously voted on May 2 in favor of a "Resolution to Defend the Bill of Rights"--not only against the USA Patriot Act but also against subsequent Presidential executive orders, and actions by John Ashcroft, that "threaten key rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens and noncitizens by the Bill of Rights and the Massachusetts Constitution." Such as: "freedom of speech, assembly, and privacy; the right to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings; and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures."

To begin, the city of Northampton now asks that "federal and state law enforcement report to the local Human Rights Commission all local investigations undertaken under the Act and executive orders; and that the community's Congressional representatives actively monitor the implementation of the acts and orders and work to repeal those sections found to be unconstitutional."

Since many Massachusetts towns and cities have a robust percentage of active voters, it is not inconceivable that their passive representatives in Washington may well be moved to pay attention. In April, similar resolutions were passed in the nearby towns of Amherst and Leverett.

These Massachusetts patriots are, in effect, descendants of the Sons of Liberty who organized Committees of Correspondence against the British before the Revolutionary War."

Why not get YOUR town or city to speak out against the so-called Patriot Act? Down with Big Brother!
See also:
http://www.progressive.org/July%202002/hent0702.html
Any video or photos?
25 Jun 2002
Godo article! Any video or photos to make it even stronger?
WE ARE EVERYWHERE
26 Jun 2002
WE ARE THE LEGION OF JON CHANCES. WE ARE EVERYWHERE. IMC-BOSTON WILL BEG FOR MERCY EVERYTIME WE ALL FORGET TO TAKE OUR SPECIAL MEDICINE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.