U City passes resolution opposing anti-terrorism measures
University City became the first city in Missouri to pass a resolution opposing new federal anti-terrorism measures on Tuesday night. It joins 32 other cities nationwide in this decision.
The resolution, which the council passed with a 4-2 vote, specifically targets the USA Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act because of concerns that they infringe on civil liberties.
The Green Party founded the St. Louis Bill of Rights Defense Committee and drafted the resolution. Members Lawrence Lieberman and Shelley Welsch presented the resolution to the University City Council during a work session several weeks ago. At that meeting, several community members presented a petition and spoke out in favor of the resolution.
Supporters of the resolution contend that new federal regulations infringe on civil liberties by giving authorities more power to detain people without due process, to perform wiretaps or e-mail surveys, and to conduct other searches in secret.
The resolution asks the city manager to advise city employees not to participate in investigations, interrogations, or arrests that might violate civil rights. It also advises federal and state authorities working in University City to prevent unreasonable detentions or racial profiling.
The resolution also focuses on informing Congress of the opinion of University City residents by asking U.S. representatives and senators from the St. Louis area to work to repeal federal regulations that the resolution states damage to civil liberties.
Though the passage of the resolution elicited cheers from members of the crowd who had spoken at the previous two meetings, others were disappointed with the council’s decision.
Area residents Joe Wimsatt, Edward McCarthy, and Leo MacDonald said that the resolution should have been held to a public vote. McCarthy also said that the new resolution promotes an irresponsible non-compliance with federal regulations.
Voting in favor of the resolution were Lieberman, Welsh, Arthur Sharpe, and Mayor Joseph Adams. Dissenting votes came from council members Wayne Munkel and Cassandra Colquitt. They had prepared their own version of the resolution but were not permitted to present it at the council meeting.
There also has been debate on the Washington University campus about the resolution.
“I think that this is a step in the right direction. Personal privacy is one of our most basic rights and we need to work to protect it. Especially right now,” said senior Lisa Warnke.
Freshmen Louis Lo disagreed.
“I think this is a waste of the city’s time,” she said. “I don’t think this is some thing that the city should be doing.”
A similar resolution was brought before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen by Freeman Bosley, Sr. and was rejected. Twenty of the Alderman council’s 29 members were present to vote on the resolution, which needed at least 15 votes to pass. Three of the present members voted against, 12 voted for, and five abstained. Supporters of the resolution plan to present it to the Alderman council again when it begins a new session in April.
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