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Helena, Montana

City/Town: Helena
County: Lewis and Clark
State: Montana
Congressional District: (click to contact Rep.) 1

Population (2000 Census): 25,780
Date Passed: 12/06/04

A Resolution Protecting the Civil Liberties of the Citizens of the City of Helena, Montana

Approved by: Helena City Council

WHEREAS, federal, state and local governments should take rational and deliberate steps to protect our society and our freedoms from terrorist attacks such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001; and

WHEREAS, the preservation of civil rights and liberties is essential to the well being of a democratic society; and

WHEREAS, various federal policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including certain provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and related executive orders, regulations, and actions jeopardize fundamental rights and liberties, examples of which include:

1. chilling constitutionally protected speech through over-broad definitions of "domestic terrorism";
2. permitting the FBI to conduct surveillance of religious services, internet chat rooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings of any kind without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed;
3. authorizing the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens based on mere suspicion, and the indefinite incarceration of citizens designated by the President as "enemy combatants" without providing access to counsel or meaningful recourse to the federal courts;
4. limiting the traditional authority of federal courts to curb abuses by law enforcement of electronic surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and ordinary criminal investigations;
5. expanding the authority of federal agents to conduct so-called "sneak and peek" or "black bag" searches in which the subject of the search is unaware that his property has been searched; and
6. granting law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to personal medical, financial, education, and library records with little, if any, judicial oversight.

WHEREAS, many other communities throughout the country have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of federal government policies that threaten these values, and demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding their use of these new powers; and

WHEREAS, Helena has a diverse population, including immigrants and students, whose contributions to the community are vital to its economy, culture, and civic character; and

WHEREAS, these new federal powers pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of persons of particular religious, cultural, or ethnic origin; and

WHEREAS, Helena is proud of its long and distinguished tradition of protecting the civil rights and liberties of its residents, and of how the Helena Police Department respects the civil liberties of our population; and

WHEREAS, the Helena City Commission believes that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty - Americans can be both safe and free; and

WHEREAS, the Helena City Commission does not wish to see the police department put in a position to lose the respect and trust of the citizens of Helena; and

WHEREAS, government security measures that undermine fundamental rights harm the ability of the residents of Helena to participate fully and freely in their community and in the governance of the City.


Section 1. AFFIRMS its strong support for fundamental constitutional rights and its opposition to federal measures that infringe on human rights and civil liberties;

Section 2. AFFIRMS its opposition to secret detention, secret immigration proceedings, detention without access to counsel, and subjection of non-military personnel to military detention;

Section 3. AFFIRMS its opposition to measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based solely on their particular religious, cultural or ethnic origins, and therefore affirms its strong support for the rights of immigrants;

Section 4. AFFIRMS its support of policing currently followed by the City of Helena, including how the City:

a. maintains public records on the names and initial charges of those detained and/or arrested by the City of Helena;
b. refrains from engaging in the surveillance of individuals or groups of individuals based on their participation in activities protected by the First Amendment, such as political advocacy or the practice of a religion, except when there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the surveillance is or may be involved in criminal activity unrelated to or beyond the activities protected by the First Amendment;
c. avoids using race, religion, ethnicity or national origin as factors in selecting which individuals to subject to investigatory activities except when seeking to apprehend a specific suspect whose race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin is part of the description of the suspect;
d. refrains from using city resources to enforce federal immigration laws which are the responsibility of the federal government, except when an alien has been detained or arrested on suspicion of a criminal offense;
e. refrains from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious, or social views, associations, or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business, or partnership unless such information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities, and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct;
f. has not established a general surveillance network of video cameras deploying facial recognition technology or other biometric identification technology;
g. provides notice of the execution of a search warrant simultaneous with the search of the property subject to such a warrant;
h. encourages citizens to report crime and the observable results of crime, through organizations such as Crimestoppers, but does not recruit members of the general public to spy on their neighbors, colleagues, or customers, such as the proposed federal Operation TIPS; and
i. refrains from stopping drivers or pedestrians for the purpose of scrutinizing their identification documents without particularized suspicion of criminal activity, except under those limited circumstances specifically authorized by Montana law.

Section 5. DIRECTS the City Manager to report to the City Commission at the next regular meeting subsequent to any change in the policing listed in the previous section, as well as any requests by federal authorities that, if granted, would cause agencies of the City of Helena to exercise powers or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of those policing practices, of any city ordinance, or of the laws or Constitution of this state;

Section 6. REQUESTS that public schools and institutions of higher learning within the City of Helena provide notice to individuals whose education records have been obtained by law enforcement agents pursuant to Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;

Section 7. REQUESTS that any public library within the City of Helena post a notice to library uses, in a prominent place within the library, as follows: "WARNING: Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. That federal law prohibits librarians from informing you if records about you have been obtained by federal agents. Questions about this policy should be directed to the United States Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530";

Section 8. DIRECTS the City Manager to seek bi-annually from federal authorities the following information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the residents of the City of Helena:

a. the number of all persons who have been arrested or otherwise detained within the City of Helena by federal authorities as a result of terrorism investigations since September 11, 2001; the name of each detainee; the most recent location of each detainee; the circumstances that led to each detention; the charges, if any, lodged against each detainee; and the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;
b. the number of search warrants that have been executed in the City of Helena without notice to the subject of each warrant pursuant to Section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
c. the extent of electronic surveillance carried out in the City of Helena under powers granted in the USA PATRIOT Act;
d. the number of instances that federal authorities have monitored political meetings, religious gatherings, or other activities within the City of Helena that are protected by the First Amendment;
e. the number of times education records have been obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in the City of Helena under Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
f. the number of times library records have been obtained from libraries in the City of Helena under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and
g. the number of times that records of the books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in the City of Helena under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Section 9. DIRECTS the City Manager to transmit to the City Commission a summary of the information obtained pursuant to the preceding section and, based on such information and any other relevant information, an assessment of the effect of federal antiterrorism efforts on the residents of the City of Helena, including, within three (3) years, a review of the need for requests made pursuant to the preceding section;

Section 10. DIRECTS the City Manager to transmit a copy of this resolution to Senator Baucus, Senator Burns, and Representative Rehberg, accompanied by a letter from the Helena City Commission urging them to monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics and work to repeal or sunset provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other laws and regulations that
infringe on civil rights and liberties;

Section 11. DIRECTS the City Manager to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Governor of Montana, the Montana Attorney General, and all appropriate members of the State Legislature, accompanied by a letter from the Helena City Commission urging them to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties as described in this resolution;

Section 12. DIRECTS the City Manager to transmit a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States and the United States Attorney General.


Community Group / Coalition: Helena Patriot Committee

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