Evanston commission to take stand against USA Patriot Act

Dalia Naamani-Goldman

Evanston’s recent anti-war resolution may soon have company.

The Human Relations Commission voted Wednesday night to compose a resolution that takes a stand against the USA Patriot Act. The bill was passed by Congress shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 and gives the federal government far-reaching authority to monitor the activities of suspected terrorists. Commission members said the act undermines their constitutional rights.

“This is a way of helping to protect ourselves,” said Madeline Goldstein, who is organizing the resolution with the help of other residents.

The proposal will be a defense of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and will be presented to Evanston residents within 30 days.

If the commission approves the resolution, Evanston City Council members will add it to their agenda.

Goldstein proposed the idea with support from Evanston and Chicago community members. Of the almost 20 people at the meeting, no one spoke out against the proposal.

“We join the American people who care about this and want to take a stand and get the word out on what is happening,” Goldstein said.

Many people at the meeting expressed concern about the USA Patriot Act, including members of Neighbors for Peace, a local political advocacy group.

“I can’t imagine how (this act is) going to help in the war against terror,” said Liane Casten, president of Chicago Media Watch. “All this is beyond creepy.”

Emile Schepers, program director for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, said he was concerned that some of the terms of the USA Patriot Act could lead to a repeat of events such as former Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist hunt in the 1950s and the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.

Public Library Director Neal Ney said the bill would give the government access to public library records.

“Right now (there have been) no searches of Evanston Public Library,” he said. “But if there had been, I couldn’t tell you about it.”

Commission Chairman Michael Cervantes said the commission will meet next week to discuss the wording of the resolution.