Bill of Rights Defense Campaign

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Community Resolutions Toolkit

This page describes how community members in hundreds of communities around the country have planned and implemented successful resolution efforts, and provides links to documents and tools they have used. We invite you to use these steps and documents and adapt them to your needs. You may also view and print an Acrobat (PDF) file of this toolkit.

If you are working on a resolution in your community, please inform us about your efforts, and send us tools and links that you would like to share through this web site.

The chronology and tools are presented in four pages:

Initial Planning

1. Initial Meeting

Invite a group of people in your community that you think might be interested in defending civil liberties for an initial meeting. This can be a small or large group of people, formed as a subcommittee of a larger organization, a new group, or a coalition.

Tools: Flyer announcing first meeting (Word) (PDF)

Next, create a strategy that will help you accomplish your goals of educating your community, building an activist base, passing a resolution, and ultimately working with other people in different cities and towns that have passed resolutions to amend or repeal the unconstitutional provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and other antiterrorism legislation that threatens civil liberties. The most effective tactics we’ve seen to accomplish these goals consist of building a coalition of diverse groups and elected officials, circulating a petition, hosting a forum/educational event, writing press releases and lobbying elected officials.

2. Networking and Outreach with Other Organizations

After the first meeting, members of the group can agree to call other local organizations and people that might be interested in helping organize locally. Members can split up contacts and let people in other organizations know about the next coalition meeting. Here are some suggestions to include in your outreach:

  • Human Rights Commission, if any, of your local government body
  • Teachers, professors, students, and student groups
  • Librarians
  • Attorneys
  • Political party chapters
  • Civic groups and neighborhood associations
  • Religious leaders
  • Activist groups
  • Union locals

Be sure to seek out people who have been most affected by laws and policies enacted since September 11th. Talk to leaders of local mosques, groups that fight racism and profiling, and those that help Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and immigrants of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian descent, including ESL instructors.

Tools: Suggestions for building bridges with Muslim community.

Ask existing local organizations who express interest in working with you if they would be willing to share their mailing list or email list, or to send an announcement about your coalition to their membership.

Emphasize that the PATRIOT Act affects us all. Refrain from only involving members of one partisan group. A resolution that represents the diversity within your community will be more effective and less vulnerable to the opposition than one that reflects the views of only a few community members.

3. Community Outreach and Fundraising:

Set dates for a forum and next meeting to plan the forum, then send out an invitation letter to individuals, businesses, and nonprofits in your community. The letter can ask people to endorse the forum and to make a donation to cover expenses such as copying, postage, babysitters, and facility rental. Do not be afraid to be creative. Some communities have held events, such as benefit concerts and poetry readings, to help raise money and awareness.

Benefits of getting endorsements:

  • Potential new members for your committee;
  • A network for promoting your event and for rallying support for your efforts;
  • Broadens appeal for your community.

Tools: Invitation letter (HTML or Word) and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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