The city council is set to vote tonight on a resolution criticizing the USA Patriot Act.

The resolution calls on the city of Madison to “uphold the constitutionally protected rights of all persons to peacefully protest and express their political views, no matter how unpopular,” and urges police not to utilize “racial profiling” or cooperate with any investigation of a suspect in the absence of probable cause.

It was proposed by a group of Madison City Council members who claim American civil liberties are in jeopardy under the act.

The resolution was drawn up by Don McKeating of the Madison Area Peace Coalition and introduced by Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2. It has received endorsement from the Progressive Dane Party, as well as several other city alders.

Ald. Tom Powell, District 5, is hopeful the council passes the resolution.

“I’m fully in support of resolution. I think that we have seen slow erosion of civil liberties ever since 9-11,” Powell said. “It reaffirms civil liberties and reaffirms importance to be free of violation of people’s 1st and 4th amendment.”

Fearing the Patriot Act infringes on citizens’ rights awarded to them by the Constitution, council members, including Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said they strongly support the resolution.

“Governor McCallum’s very first executive order was an order against racial profiling and has encouraged law enforcement all over the state to restrict racial profiling,” Verveer said.

However, Ald. Dorothy Borchardt, District 12, said she believes the city may be overstepping its jurisdiction and is confident that the City Council’s decision will have no bearing whatsoever on the implementation of the Patriot Act on a federal or local level.

Borchardt suggested Madison residents concerned that their civil liberties might be threatened by passage of the USA Patriot Act should contact their locally elected congressional representatives.
“Washington, D.C. is not waiting for us with baited breath for our decision on this resolution,” Borchardt said. “They don’t care what the City Council in Madison has to say about it.”