The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MCCRC) is joining the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area (ACLU-NCA) in launching a public education and petition campaign against WMATA’s random bag search program.
The petition text reads as follows:
Whereas, the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides every citizen protection from unwarranted search and seizure without probable cause; and
Whereas, the 4th Amendment rights of the riders of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) system are infringed when the Metropolitan Transit Police Department (MTPD) implements warrantless random bag searches within the system; and
Whereas, the public riding the WMATA system are entitled to efficient and effective police action that actually protects public safety; and
Whereas, the random bag search program offers little deterrent to those who would actually threaten the WMATA system’s security, and does so at the cost of taxpayer dollars:
Therefore, we the undersigned oppose random bag searches of metro passengers as unconstitutional, ineffective and misguided. We demand that WMATA immediately discontinue the searches.
Flyers expand on the petition with information about the bag search program, and with an eloquent message by an ACLU-NCA member to WMATA’s Board of Directors:
“I am a regular user of the Metro. The bag search idea strikes me as particularly dubious, an example of ‘security theatre’ that has very little likelihood of increasing our security. At best, it will move a terrorist from one target to another (perhaps simply by entering a Metro station through a different entrance), which might be worthwhile if there were no costs associated with the idea. But there are large costs, not only monetary. Each time we take another chip out of personal privacy, each time we insert a new police function into the everyday life of innocent people, we pay a price by becoming more like our adversary and less like a free people. Such intrusions should only occur as a last ditch way of saving lives, where there is a reasonably strong likelihood of success. This project does not pass a balancing test because it is so full of loopholes and ways for a terrorist to avoid being searched that it simply makes no sense.”
Petitions, flyers, and training materials will be ready mid-week.
The ACLU-NCA is looking for volunteers to join them at DC Metro stations; to get involved, contact Beverly Miller at 202-457-0800, at email@example.com, or check out the ACLU-NCA web site at http://aclu-nca.org.
We want to lend a hand by petitioning outside Montgomery County Metro stations, starting with Takoma Park this Thursday morning (and at least the next two: 2/24, 3/3, 3/10) from 7:30-8:30AM, and Silver Spring this Saturday (and at least the next two: 2/26, 3/5, 3/12) from 10AM-noon.
UPDATE, 2/24: petitioning will not happen in Silver Spring this Saturday, 2/26. Instead, we’ll join a demonstration supporting Wisconsin unions fighting for their collective bargaining civil rights in downtown DC. We’ll gather anti-bag search signatures while we’re at it. Join us! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d love your help! Please write ahead so we know to expect you, have sufficient materials on hand, and can arrange for a brief orientation. Contact us either at email@example.com (Subject: Petition volunteer), by leaving a note at this blog post, or on our discussion listserv. — Thanks!!