Residents and activists of Takoma Park, MD, petitioned the city council to adopt a resolution which would affirm constitutional freedoms and reject the indefinite military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “Human rights know no national or jurisdictional boundaries,” said Jim Kuhn, a local resident and member of the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MCCRC), a coalition that BORDC helped bring together. [It’s] the special responsibility of local officials to protect our human rights, and our rights of due process, when they are being ignored or abused by federal or state authorities.” Signed by President Obama on the last day of 2011, the NDAA codifies into law military detention without charge or trial for any person suspected of a “belligerent act.” Under the auspices of mere suspicion, any person—citizens and non-citizens alike—can now legally have their constitutional freedoms revoked without any due process or proof of wrongdoing, thanks to the executive powers granted by the NDAA. Priya Murthy, policy director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), explained at the city council meeting why this causes particular worry among racial and religious minorities:
For the past ten years, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian Americans have been under intense scrutiny for suspected connections to terrorist organizations. Given this climate as a backdrop and the heightened suspicion that our communities have been subjected to over the past ten years, SAALT has objected to provisions within the NDAA, as individuals from our communities may be among the first targeted for indefinite detention without adequate due process and Constitutional protections.
The council did not vote on the resolution, which will undergo further consideration by the city council in the next month. The MCCRC will host a public forum at the end of the month on the meaning and impact of the NDAA. The Takoma Park resolution is based of off BORDC’s model resolution for Americans who want to protect due process and the right to trial in their city or town as a means to push back against the dangerous new law. With successful campaigns in Northampton, MA, as well as Santa Cruz, CA, more campaigns continue to sprout up throughout the US, from New York City to Albuquerque, in a ongoing nationwide effort to reclaim civil liberties. Visit our campaign page to learn more.