Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Committee resolution urges revocation of USA Patriot Act

When a resolution opposing aspects of national-security policy reached an Evanston City Council committee last night, it was mostly a form of protest.

But by the time the committee passed the resolution on the USA Patriot Act, it was nothing less than direct action.

The council’s Human Services Committee discussed a resolution concerning the Patriot Act, the federal law that allowed a laundry list of new police powers after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including expanded government access to mental-health, medical and student records.

The original resolution, passed in March by the Human Relations Commission, asked Congress to repeal parts of the law they felt violated citizens’ rights. But by the end of the night, aldermen had significantly expanded the scope of Evanston’s resolution.

Most of the 60 people crowded into the small Human Services meeting room at the Evanston Civic Center urged city leaders to ask City Council to support the revised resolution. Activists from an array of local groups shared stories of alleged civil rights violations and police abuses after the terrorist attacks.

When the residents had finished speaking, Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) proposed a proposal be drawn asking the U.S. Congress to repeal the USA Patriot Act altogether. His motion passed amid applause.

“I am frustrated that I am more frightened of my own government than I am of terrorists,” Bernstein said. “We’ve got to take a stand here, because that’s all we can do.”

The aldermen and activists also expressed concern over new proposed anti-terrorism measures nicknamed “Patriot II,” currently being discussed in Congress. As a result the committee approved a suggestion by Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl (7th) that the resolution also oppose future legislation that would violate civil rights.

But aldermen also discussed how they could translate opposition of the Patriot Act into action. Ald. Art Newman (1st) asked the City Manager’s Office to provide a list of ways the city could be required to enforce the act, in order to assess its impact on the community.

Bernstein said Evanston should resist the USA Patriot Act as much as legally possible. He suggested posting signs in libraries informing users of how the act affects their privacy.

The full council now will consider the USA Patriot Act resolution at its May 19 meeting.

In other business the committee also moved to put forth to council an proposal of an ordinance limiting the number of special events with more than 100 people that can he held on Evanston’s lakefront.

Newman said the lakefront deserved special attention because it is the busiest park area in the city. “There’s a lot of activities there, he said, and residents pay the price.”

The committee also heard a request by Heartland Meats, Inc., to sell their products at the Evanston Farmer’s Market at the intersection of University Place and Oak Avenue. The market traditionally has steered away from meat.

“We can add to the diversity of the market without competing with any products being offered right now,” said Patricia Sondgeroth, who owns Heartland with her husband, John.

But questions over safety, the cost of inspectors and liability compelled the aldermen to ask city staff to study the issue further. As a result the council probably will not vote on the issue until June, well after the market’s May 17 opening date.

Newman said that if Heartland wanted to make the first Saturday market, the company should have made their request sooner.

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Committee resolution urges revocation of USA Patriot Act