This is the first blog post in what my friends and I hope will be an active hub of information, conversation, and organizing about protecting civil rights and civil liberties where we live — Montgomery County, Maryland.
We want individuals and organizations to join us; our first goal is to advocate and pass a model ordinance developed by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee — a “Local Civil Rights Restoration Act.” As the bill’s introduction explains:
This model legislation offers local legislative bodies an opportunity to restore civil rights and ensure the focus of local law enforcement agencies on their core public safety mission by limiting their participation in federal immigration enforcement and domestic surveillance activities. These limits effectively help restore longstanding civil rights recently eroded by the wars on drugs, immigrants, and terror.
The legislation’s sections include the following:
- A prohibition on profiling according to race, religion, country of origin, or gender;
- Data collection and disclosure requirements to ensure transparency of potential profiling;
- Limits on profiling according to political speech or activity;
- Limits on intelligence collection and surveillance to functionally restore the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement;
- A prohibition on federal immigration enforcement operations by local officials; and
- A provision for a civil action and damages to enable the measure’s provisions to be enforced by aggrieved individuals acting in the public interest.
In so doing, we will take back the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment from those who seem to have forgotten they are the binding law of the land. We’re not alone; similar efforts are underway or have already borne fruit from Hartford, Connecticut to Asheville, North Carolina to Missoula, Montana.
For my part, I think those efforts and our own will mean as much as any ordinance we see enacted here in Montgomery County. By standing up against profiling, against unwarranted surveillance, data mining and infiltration, we’re saying no, it’s not all right that these things are happening — and no, we don’t think there’s nothing we can do about it. Yes, we care about our civil rights and civil liberties. Yes, we can protect them.
We hope you’ll join us.