Local communities can safeguard the civil rights and liberties of their residents by enacting local laws that can put your community on the offensive and put a cog in any President’s plans to trample on the Bill of Rights.
When Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, people across the country were outraged. BORDC turned that outrage into effective political action, organizing to combat government surveillance and widespread violations of fundamental constitutional rights. Between 2001 and 2007, campaigns were launched in 689 communities across the United States.
Ultimately, 406 municipalities across 46 states and the District of Columbia passed resolutions opposing the PATRIOT Act. Eight states also passed similar resolutions: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, and Vermont. More than 85 million Americans live in one of these jurisdictions. In addition, 89 labor unions, organizations, religious bodies, and college and university campuses also passed anti-PATRIOT Act resolutions.
Defending Rights & Dissent model ordinances contain provisions that:
- Declare that all people, regardless of race, religion, national origin, immigration status, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation are welcome in the community.
- Prohibit discriminatory profiling
- Prohibit or limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
- Prohibit undercover infiltration or spying on activist groups or religious institutions.
- Protect social media from the prying eyes of the state.
We encourage you to join forces with others in your community to launch a campaign to pass local legislation. Our templates were written to respond to community concerns after the 2016 election. They are designed to be agile and adaptable in order to meet the different needs of diverse communities nationwide. Tooled to be supported by unconventional coalitions, these bills will empower you to take action to defend your rights and those of your neighbors.
- Model Resolution to Defend Rights and Dissent (PDF) (Word)
- Model Ordinance to Protect Against Discriminatory Profiling and Limit Surveillance, Intelligence Collection, and Immigration Enforcement Activities (PDF) (Word)
- Model Ordinance to Protect First Amendment Rights and Online Privacy (PDF) (Word)
- Talking points: Why Impose Legislative Limits on Local Law Enforcement?
- Local Police and Surveillance
- Explainer: What do the laws and resolution do? (PDF)
- Grassroots organizing toolkit
- Guide to Writing Effective Ordinances and Resolutions
Sign up here for more information, updates, and resources as they are developed.
Model ordinance to protect the right to boycott:
Model Human Rights Defenders Protection Act
Additional model local ordinances focus on surveillance and transparency:
Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS)
Model Legislation to Regulate Law Enforcement Use of Face Recognition Technology
Resolutions allow your town or state to send a message to the federal government
Resolution opposing military detention and supporting the right to trial. In 2011, the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law. It includes a provisions that could allow indefinite and arbitrary military detention, without a trial or day in court, of anyone accused of any “belligerent act” or terror-related offense—including “material support” allegations based strictly on speech or association. It essentially subjects everyone within the US (including citizens, legal residents, and visitors) to the same lawless standards at work in Guantánamo Bay.
Resolution for accountability for torture offers an opportunity for municipalities and states to call on the federal government to pursue transparency and accountability through an independent commission and prosecution of all government officials complicit in degrading treatment.
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