SARASOTA DISAVOWS SEGMENTS OF THE USA PATRIOT ACT - Kimberley Farley

10/21/03

Last night in Sarasota the City Commission voted in favor of becoming the latest community to adopt a resolution disavowing parts of the Patriot Act. WMNF’s Kimberley Farley reports.

The vote was 3-2 with Mayor Lou Ann Palmer and Vice-Mayor Richard Martin dissenting. Mary Ann Servian, Fredd Atkins, and Dan Bilyeu, who was the resolution’s sponsor, voted in favor.

The resolution that passed sought to disavow parts of the Patriot Act such as sneak-and-peak searches, where law enforcement can subpoena records and search your home with no warrant or notice that a search has occurred… as well as the indefinite imprisonment of citizens without a conviction.

In an effort to get it passed by a larger margin, parts that were seen as problematic by the two dissenting voters were removed. Grissom Walker of the Sarasota/Manatee Chapter of the ACLU (SB ? …understood the concern)

The vote followed an hour of emotional testimony from both supporters and opposers.

Mrs. Betty Miller said that the people who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks would call for any measures to prevent another tragedy. (SB ? …if you’re dead?)

Jeff Bell was another of those who spoke against the resolution. He said that he felt that as a local governing body there were more important things to worry about. (SB ? …)

The supporters all agreed that the Patriot Act goes too far and is an incursion on Civil Liberties. Daniel Furtado, a war veteran, was the last to testify and spoke in favor of the resolution. (SB ? …)

The last commissioner to speak after the public testimony was Fredd Atkins. He gave an emotional speech about how as a black man he has seen the fight for civil liberties, and could not condone an act which in his words "alleviated freedom."

After Commissioner Atkins spoke, the vote was taken. (SB ? …clapping)

The resolution is symbolic and holds no legal authority.

Mayor Palmer said that although she personally does not support it, she would sign it proudly because it represents the majority of the City Commission.

The ACLU plans on filing suit against the Patriot Act and wants to use the fact that about 180 communities and 3 states have passed resolutions against it.

For WMNF News, I’m Kimberley Farley in Sarasota.

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